Noel Edmonds lashes out at Lloyds boss over knowledge of HBOS scandal
The TV presenter says he wants to “see more people banned from the City” in light of alleged misconduct in the banking sector.
Television celebrity Noel Edmonds has described Lloyds boss Antonio Horta Osorio as a “shit banker” or a “liar” in relation to the chief executive’s knowledge of a fraud scandal at HBOS.
The former Deal Or No Deal presenter, who is seeking £300 million in compensation from Lloyds Banking Group after falling victim to fraud at the hands of former HBOS Reading staff, said he wanted to “see more people banned from the City” in light of alleged misconduct.
He singled out the Lloyds boss, suggesting he must have known about the misdeeds of staff at HBOS, which the banking group rescued at the height of the financial crisis.
Mr Edmonds said: “Horta Osorio can’t have it both ways … you’re either really good at your job and therefore you know about wrongdoing in your business, or you’re not.
“So, I don’t see how he can keep saying, and shrug his shoulders, that we didn’t know about all that was going on in HBOS or Lloyds, because, Mr Osorio, it’s your job to know. So, you’re either a shit banker, or you’re a liar.”
However, Lloyds denied Mr Edmonds’ allegations.
A spokesman for the bank said: “Although HBOS was aware of allegations regarding HBOS Reading, investigations undertaken at the time could only consider information directly held by the bank, which was shared with regulators.
“While concerns regarding the misconduct of certain HBOS individuals were identified, there was not sufficient evidence to establish criminal behaviour. ”
Lloyds has set aside £100 million for victims of the fraud at the hands of HBOS Reading staff between 2003 and 2007.
Corrupt financiers from the branch were jailed earlier this year for the £245 million loans scam which destroyed several businesses, before they squandered the profits on high-end prostitutes and luxury holidays.
The Lloyds spokesman added: “We are co-operating fully with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) investigation into the discovery and reporting of misconduct at HBOS at the time … The group is determined to get to the bottom of what went on and a thorough investigation is being conducted.”
Mr Edmonds was speaking on a panel organised by the SME Alliance in London on Wednesday, which was aimed at small business owners who claim they were mistreated or financially ruined by the likes of banks including HBOS, Lloyds and RBS’ controversial restructuring unit
The TV star said he was also recently contacted by Financial Conduct Authority boss Andrew Bailey after receiving a leaked copy of the financial watchdog’s Section 166 report into the activities of RBS’ global restructuring group (GRG).
“Andrew Bailey at the FCA sent me a letter, making it very clear that if I did anything other than keep it to myself, it’s a criminal offence,” Mr Edmonds said.
RBS’ turnaround unit GRG is alleged to have intentionally pushed businesses towards failure in hopes of picking up their assets on the cheap.
Select MPs as well as the SME Alliance and lawyers suing on behalf of affected victims are calling for a full release of the report but Britain’s financial watchdog has so far refused to make it public.
Mr Bailey has previously said publishing the review would mean revealing confidential information about the individuals who contributed to the Section 166 report.
Mr Edmonds said RBS would be brought to its knees by the number of claims it would receive if the report was published in full.
“The claims that RBS would receive would be in excess of £100 billion. The bank is worth a quarter of that. It would be the end of RBS. What would it to do the UK economy?”
He added: “I’ve come to the conclusion that the publication of the report is in the victims’ interest.
“As a victim of Lloyd’s I understand why victims want it to be published. I hope you understand why I regard this is a complex question.”