Regulation  

FCA orders new inquiry into HBoS bosses

FCA orders new inquiry into HBoS bosses

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) have decided to start investigations into certain former Halifax Bank of Scotland senior managers.

The regulators confirmed the investigations will determine whether or not any prohibition proceedings should be commenced against them.

The FCA and PRA continue to review materials with a view to making further decisions regarding other former HBoS senior managers.

The move to re-start investigations into HBoS senior managers comes after a report by Andrew Green QC slated the Financial Services Authority failure to take enforcement action following the failure of HBoS.

According to Andrew Green QC, the FSA should also have investigated former HBoS chief executive Andy Hornby from early 2009.

The decision in March 2010 not to investigate Mr Hornby over his role in the demise of HBoS was deemed unreasonable by the QC.

Mr Green published his report alongside the PRA and FCA’s document on the failure of HBoS.

The FCA/PRA report also concluded the FSA placed too much trust in the competence and capabilities of HBoS senior management and control functions.

Parliament and the public were finally handed the official report on what went wrong at HBoS and the way the then Financial Services Authority kept tabs on the lending giant back in November.

HBoS was the second worst failure in British banking history, after RBS, and with impairments in the loan book – as a proportion of the balance sheet – that were twice as bad.

The report published yesterday by the FSA’s successors, along with the report produced by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards back in 2013, concluded the same things.

The collapse of HBoS was found to be the result of catastrophic failures of management, governance and regulatory oversight.

Ultimate responsibility for the demise of HBoS lies with the bank’s board, but the FSA found to be asleep at the wheel, and even the start of the financial crisis failed to wake them.

The FSA just did not appreciate the full extent of the risks facing HBoS, the report ruled.

It cost £7m to produce the FCA/PRA report and Parliamentary Commission report.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Committee, commented that it has taken “a heap of pressure” from Parliament to secure appropriate action from the regulators.

“Mr Green concluded that the FSA should have got on with this in 2009. So the FCA and PRA should conduct these investigations immediately.

“The lion’s share of the investigatory work should already have been undertaken in the preparation of the regulators’ report in to the failure of the bank.”

Tony Catt, compliance officer at Peacehaven-based Anthony Catt Limited, said: “It is rather late to be going after these people after all this time. The expense in generating this report would be an awful waste of money if nothing were to come from its findings.

“The main issue for the FCA is having sufficient resources to oversee the banks and all other areas of financial advice,” he said, pointing out that FCA staff are stretched and in many cases lacks the experience and knowledge to be effective.