Market NewsCommentDoyen of Guillotines

Doyen of Guillotines

By Charles Wyndham.

The view that the DTC have acted correctly in suspending clients all in the cause of Best Practice Principles is about as heart warming as the news that a DTC broker is quoted in the Daily Telegraph that he “made donations to Mr Major’s Huntingdon constituency while he was promoting a proposed defence deal to Government.”

Major was the Prime Minister at the time.

Firstly, in the world of political correctness what is a DTC diamond broker doing peddling around in defence deals?

Of course one counter to this query is why not? So long as someone is not doing something illegal I see no reason why not, however odd it may appear.

That the same broker, described in one paper (I think it was the Financial Times) as the ‘doyen of De Beers’, should be the spoke that it looks like Mr Hain has been impaled on; and, as a consequence, is going to have to resign for not declaring certain donations, at the least shows a certain doggedness on the part of the broker, if not carelessness.

It is certainly not conducive to the good reputation of our industry and by analogy to the DTC that such an individual has got enmeshed in this public debacle.

However innocent this donation may have been, such donations, dressed up as interest free loans or not, is just the type of behaviour that our industry suffers from, with too often good cause.

Contrast this with the suspension of clients.

Why was it necessary for the act to be so publicised? If there are queries that a sightholder is required to answer this can be done without any need to suspend. In fact, my first reaction is that at the very least these enquiries should be held in camera.

Summary suspension smacks of a Kangaroo court, flying in the face of any presumption of innocence, however pleasing the publicity of doing the right thing may seem to be.

The reputational damage to those suspended is considerable if not economically life threatening.

Even if a client is reinstated much of the damage has been done and cannot be reversed.

For DTC to get up on its high horse on this issue and be seen to be acting in such a self serving way really sticks in my gullet.

As I have already written the DTC / De Beers is not, unsurprisingly, Willy White itself, in fact very far indeed from that self proclaimed state of pious self righteousness.

Unlike the comments that the DTC were correct to suspend but incorrect not to have chased others for wrongful acts, my reaction is one of distaste that this company, particularly as a monopoly, has got this judicial role in the first place, that is apart from my querying the motives for this line of argument.

I recall when PolishedPrices broke the story about the shenanigans at the GIA that several commentators scrupulously avoided the issue for a painfully long time before jumping on the band wagon.

The actual practice of this ‘judicial’ role is rather more in the nature of some doyen of a Pontius Pilate pontificating to the world on being even handed or an Al Capone giving lessons in tax avoidance as opposed to evasion.

DTC/ De Beers has a problem explaining to me that they have no connection with the broker.

I recall a meeting that I had with Tim Capon, then a De Beers director, demanding the withdrawal of a note sent to brokers, this was when I was a broker, basically telling clients that it was advisable, or some other euphemism, not to change brokers was circulated.

Tim replied that he did not see why the DTC could not send such a note to its brokers.

My response, as you may gather it was bit of a touchy subject to me, was that I as a broker had no contractual relationship at all with the DTC.

There was a bit of silence and subsequently some anodyne action was taken.

If the guillotine is going to be used with such abandonment by the DTC with the same moral rectitude of a Robespierre, they should remember what happened to him, he at least had the pleasure of seeing the blade descend when he himself was guillotined facing upwards.

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