Lloyds plans to install former HBOS executive Simon Amess to lead new probe into fraud… at HBOS
Lloyds will come under new pressure this week for its handling of the HBOS Reading affair, one of the most notorious frauds to hit the bank.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the lending giant plans to install a former HBOS banker to lead its involvement in an ‘independent re-review’ of the scandal at the Reading branch. The ‘rereview’ is the latest in a string of lengthy inquiries into the affair.
According to an internal memo seen by this paper, Simon Amess will oversee the bank’s side of the review into the plight of HBOS customers drained of tens of millions of pounds and pushed into financial ruin.
‘Independent re-review’: According to an internal memo, Simon Amess will oversee the bank’s side of the review into the plight of HBOS customers pushed into financial ruin
It is understood Amess will not be involved in assessing claims. But his inclusion risks angering the many victims still waiting for compensation long after the debacle.
Amess worked at Bank of Scotland before its merger with Halifax in 2001, and worked in the merged banks’ acquisition finance and structured credit divisions just before HBOS’s meltdown in 2008.
HBOS had made billions of pounds of risky loans in its commercial lending division and had to be rescued by Lloyds at a huge cost to the taxpayer. Amess did not have a direct connection to HBOS Reading or small business banking.
He was moved across from a role in Lloyds’ commercial division by new chief executive Charlie Nunn, who is expected to reveal his strategy for the bank this week on publication of its annual results.
Commercial banking chief David Oldfield said Amess would ‘take over leadership of the independent re-review of customers impacted by the HBOS Reading fraud’.
Hundreds of customers were left in financial ruin because of a scam involving staff at HBOS Reading and consultants between 2003 and 2007, when they used threats and extortion to steal from customers, take control of their firms, and pocket loans granted in their name.
Six people, including Michael Bancroft, David Mills, and Lynden Scourfield, were jailed in 2017 after they were found to have plundered £1billion to fund superyachts, sex parties and plush holidays.
It is understood Amess will be leading the bank’s efforts to provide redress to customers, working in conjunction with an independent panel chaired by retired High Court judge Sir David Foskett.
Kash Shabir, whose business was placed into receivership by Lloyds, said: ‘The whole process is cynical and entirely conflicted.’
Nunn is expected to detail a plan to turbocharge the bank’s growth in property, wealth, insurance and commercial banking.