- The chief executive of Lloyds, Antonio Horta-Osorio, is facing a public grilling
- Former HBOS CEOs James Crosby and Andy Hornby are also likely to be quizzed
- It would be the first time the men have given a public account of the affair
The chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Antonio Horta-Osorio
The chief executive of Lloyds Banking Group, Antonio Horta-Osorio, is facing a public grilling by MPs over a notorious fraud which targeted small business customers.
Horta-Osorio joined the bank several years after the HBOS Reading fraud took place but he was in charge of Lloyds at the time the so-called ‘Turnbull Report’ – which examined the crime – was written. It has been alleged that its author was forced out of the bank under his watch.
Former HBOS chief executives James Crosby and Andy Hornby are also likely to be hauled up to answer questions over exactly what they knew.
It would be the first time any of the men have given a public account of their handling of the affair.
The Treasury Select Committee is considering an investigation into the findings of the report, which Lloyds refused to release but was published last week by campaigners and MPs.
The report’s most damning findings were revealed by The Mail on Sunday last month. They include allegations that Crosby and Hornby were involved in a cover-up of the fraud.
Six people were jailed for a total of 47 years in February 2017 after they were found to have preyed on small firms between 2003 and 2007, stripping their assets for personal gain and spending the proceeds on sex parties, holidays and bling.
Calls are now mounting for a full Parliamentary inquiry into the saga. The Financial Conduct Authority is looking into allegations of a cover-up at HBOS, while the National Crime Agency is considering a new investigation of the frauds.
Explosive: Our report last month on the HBOS fraud cover-up
However, MPs and victims say these are dragging on too long and are taking place behind closed doors.
Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Select Committee, said: ‘There are a number of ongoing investigations into HBOS Reading in which the committee continues to take a close interest. We are likely to consider the Turnbull Report when this work is concluded.’
The report was compiled in 2013 by a Lloyds risk expert who no longer works at the bank. Lloyds has launched its own inquiry – chaired by a former High Court judge – to look at allegations of a cover-up.
Kevin Hollinrake, the Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, said the Treasury Select Committee should start its probe immediately.
‘These allegations haven’t been properly investigated,’ he said. ‘There are people out there with claims against HBOS who will feel they don’t have access to all the information.’
Victims Paul and Nikki Turner, who blew the whistle on the fraud after their music business Zenith was brought down by HBOS Reading, said: ‘We are shocked and disappointed to read the lengths both banks and others seem to have gone to in order to hide the truth.’
Lloyds declined to comment on the MPs’ inquiry. It has said previously that the Turnbull Report contains ‘many unsubstantiated allegations about individuals’.
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