June 23, 2012
by Wayne Madsen
Beginning on the evening of June 18, millions of customers of three large British banks — Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), NatWest, and RBS-owned Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland — began discovering that they had been frozen out of their on-line accounts by what the banks termed an unspecified technical computer “glitch.”
By June 22, some 12 million customers of the banks found that they were unable to pay their bills, receive their salaries, check their balances, have direct payments transmitted, and, in sporadic cases, access their accounts via automatic teller machines.
Although the bank service freeze has been reported by some British media, notably the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, the BBC and others, including the U.S. media, are doing their utmost to downplay the seriousness of the “technical problem.” The banks are reporting that the “glitch,” which they cannot identify, will be resolved by Monday, June 25.
The “glitch” has meant that customers cannot see their money in their accounts, which equates to a de facto closure of banking services. The “glitch” began on the eve of the day RBS’s credit rating was downgraded by one level by Moody’s. The credit ratings of three other large British banks were also downgraded, HSBC by one level, Lloyd’s TSB by one level, and Barclays by two levels.
The downgrading of the British banks’ credit ratings subsequent to the technical “glitch” that froze customers’ accounts at NatWest, RBS, and Ulster Bank has WMR intelligence sources in the UK wondering if the British government carried out a covert computer “hack,” similar to the CIA- and Israeli-developed Stuxnet worm that infected Iranian nuclear development-related computers. There is evidence of high-level communications among top British government and intelligence officials that point to the enactment of a virtual bank closure, even as bank branches remain open, in Britain to prevent a customer computerized run on the banks. There are worries spreading across Britain and Europe about the solvency of the British banks in the wake of the Moody credit rating downgrades and wider concerns across Europe that the euro zone is about to collapse as the financial situation grows more perilous in Greece, Spain, Italy, and France.
WMR’s UK intelligence sources have reported that there were several heretofore undisclosed secret phone calls prior to and during the banking “glitch” between the British Cabinet Office; the Bank of England; the MI-5 Security Service at Millbank in London, and Cheltenham’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Britain’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) that also has responsibility for offensive cyber-warfare.
If the British government engineered the bank “glitch” to prevent customers from accessing their money electronically it would represent the first use of offensive cyber-warfare against a nation’s own citizens.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. He has written for several renowned papers and blogs. Madsen is a regular contributor on Russia Today. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. Madsen has taken on Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity on their television shows. He has been invited to testifty as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He subsequently worked for the National Security Agency, the Naval Data Automation Command, Department of State, RCA Corporation, and Computer Sciences Corporation. Madsen is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Association for Intelligence Officers …