On Tuesday 18th December 2018, the Co-Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking, Kevin Hollinrake MP, will lead a Westminster Hall debate on the HBOS Reading customer case review, established by Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) and reviewed by Professor Russel Griggs.
Commenting on the Review, Kevin Hollinrake MP said: “The design, methodology and process of the Review is an affront to any notion of natural justice as it denies the victims of the fraud a fair hearing and appropriate compensation for their loss.”
LBG has taken the illogical position that every business involved in the fraud would have failed, thus avoiding the need to consider the shareholders of the defrauded businesses in the Review. Furthermore, LBG has excluded the directors and shareholders of the businesses that had no contact with those convicted, regardless of the fact that these businesses would have dealt with HBOS employees who were acting on the direct orders of those convicted.
For those individuals who do meet the Review’s restrictive eligibility criteria, the bank refuses to disclose any documentation, refuses to discuss the methodology nor the basis of decisions, is reliant on documentation that has been in the hands of proven fraudsters and does not offer any appeal mechanism other than the courts, which is completely inaccessible for the victims of the fraud who, by the very nature of the fraud, are financially vulnerable.
Furthermore, the bank has reneged on their promise to “cover reasonable fees for professional advice whilst in the Griggs Review.” The APPG has received evidence that the bank has refused to pay for forensic accountant’s reports and will not even wait for their reports in some cases.
On a more fundamental level, however, the scheme was established on false pretences. The bank took the public position that they had seen “no evidence of criminality” prior to the criminal convictions of those responsible in February 2017. They subsequently based the Review on this assertion, and marketed the scheme as a way to provide “swift, fair and appropriate redress” to the victims. However, it is now clear that this position was untenable as the bank would have known about the HBOS Reading fraud and chose to cover it up for years.
Kevin Hollinrake MP has written to the Chief Executive of the FCA, Andrew Bailey, to formally request a thorough, robust and transparent investigation of António Horta-Osório under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime. Kevin Hollinrake MP has also written to the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan MP, urging her to call Mr Horta-Osório to give evidence to the Committee in order to hold him accountable for the actions of the bank under his tenure.