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Opinion

Poetic justice by email

Has there ever been a finer movie speech than Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth!” tirade in A Few Good Men?

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David Sietsma, formerly head of portfolio management in group treasury at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is clearly a fan, as an email filed by Australia’s corporate regulator in its rate-rigging case against the Australian bank attests.

In a group email, he wrote: “You can’t handle the truth! You weep for 6 month BBSW and you curse the banks that manipulate the rate set.

“You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that the BBSW rate set, while tragic, is the best thing we’ve got.

“And ALM’s existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, protects profits.”

Some context: BBSW is the bank bill swap rate CBA is accused of rigging (as was Westpac; the other two ‘big four’ banks have settled out of court); ALM is the asset and liability management unit, within which Sietsma worked at the time. 

It’s rather more poetic and imaginative than an email from CBA portfolio manager Garfield Lee to HSBC’s Carl Radford in 2010, saying ANZ would abuse rates: “they will deny but they will fk u liek you are being done by a russian hooker on speed”.



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