#three credit report agencies
Ex-HBOS bosses likely to escape fines because of delayed report
James Crosby is one of two former HBOS chief executives expected to be heavily criticised in the report. Photograph: Garry Weaser for the Guardian
Former HBOS bosses who are expected to be heavily criticised this week over their role in the bank’s near-collapse are likely to escape fines because regulators’ report into the matter took so long to complete.
HBOS had to be rescued by rival Lloyds in September 2008 and the enlarged institution was later bailed out with 20bn of taxpayers’ cash.
A Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority report into the debacle is to be published on Thursday after a series of delays.
The former chairman, Lord Stevenson, and chief executives James Crosby and Andy Hornby are expected to be heavily criticised in the 500-page report and could face bans from the financial services industry.
But fines cannot be imposed for any wrongdoing unless the report reveals significant new information, because regulators did not warn executives of any enforcement action before a six-year statute of limitations ran out last year.
The main report, which reviewed more than 200,000 evidence documents, was completed 18 months ago.
But regulators have spent the last year and a half dealing with more than 1,500 representations from 35 HBOS executives whom they were legally obliged to consult about comments relating to them in the report – a process known as Maxwellisation.
A 100-page report by an independent QC, Andrew Green, also to be published on Thursday, will examine whether the former banking regulator, the Financial Services Authority, was right to have taken action against just one former HBOS executive.
Peter Cummings, who ran the bank’s commercial lending division, was banned for life from the industry and fined 500,000 in 2012.
The report into the collapse of HBOS was not started until that year, once the enforcement action, and appeals against it by Cummings, had taken place, but was initially expected to be completed in 2013.
The parliamentary commission on banking standards, set up in the wake of the Libor-rigging scandal. has already published its own account of the collapse. It accused Crosby, Hornby and Stevenson of “colossal” management failures and questioned why only Cummings had been censured by the City regulator.
Hornby returned to business life in 2009 as chief executive of Alliance Boots. He is now chief operating officer of Gala Coral, and will hold the same senior role when its merger with Ladbrokes is finalised.
Crosby resigned from several City positions, and asked for his knighthood to be revoked, in 2013 after the parliamentary report found that he sowed the “seeds of destruction” at HBOS.
Paul Moore, the HBOS whistleblower, said last week he feared the report could turn out to be “a cover-up and a fudge”. He has called for a criminal investigation, as well as a judicial inquiry into the auditing of all the big banks and the conduct of the credit ratings agencies.