Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Former HBOS chief quits equity firm

Lord Stevenson was 'incapable of facing the realities of what placed the bank in jeopardy from that time until now', a report found
Sir James Crosby was the 'architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster', the report said
Andy Hornby 'proved unable or unwilling to change course', a report found

Former HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby has stepped down from his role with a private equity firm in the wake of a damning report into the collapse of the bank.

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards claimed Sir James was the "architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster" and held primary responsibility for the collapse along with former chairman Lord Stevenson and fellow chief executive Andy Hornby.

A spokesman for the European investment firm Bridgepoint said: "Following a discussion with Sir James this morning he has decided to resign from the advisory board."

The commission blamed the men's "toxic" misjudgments for the bank's downfall and £20.5 billion taxpayer bailout at the height of the financial crisis, and said they should not be allowed to work in the financial sector again. It found the former HBOS bosses also failed to admit their mistakes and should apologise for their "incompetent and reckless board strategy".

Sir James, who has been a member of Bridgepoint's European Advisory Board since September 2006 on an undisclosed salary, was chief executive of HBOS from 2001 to 2006 and former deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority. He remains chairman of the car credit company Money Barn and a senior independent director for Compass as well as a trustee for Cancer Research UK.

Mr Hornby's current employers, Gala Coral, said he had their "complete backing". Coral spokesman Simon Clare said: "Coral as a business is performing extremely well and that coincides with Andy's tenure as chief executive. He's doing a great job and we're delighted with the job he is doing. He has the complete backing of the business."

Sir James and Lord Stevenson have so far retained their titles, though the Royal Bank of Scotland's disgraced former boss Fred Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood.

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the commission, refused to say whether he would like to see Sir James or Lord Stevenson lose their titles, saying the public were not concerned about knighthoods.

"That is not our job. We were not set up as a Banking Commission to strip people of their titles," he said.

"I don't think the public are so concerned about knighthoods. What they want is reassurance that they won't get hit by this again, that people who do such damage are identified and are prevented from practising and that people should not be allowed to gamble with our money and then walk away with huge bonuses."

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