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PRESENTATION TO INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON ECONOMIC CRIME

8 SEPTEMBER 2018, JESUS COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE

The only major banking fraud that has been brought to justice in recent years was the HBOS Reading case in which 6 people were sentenced to nearly 50 years imprisonment in Feb 2017. Throughout the case Lloyds Bank, which had taken over HBOS in 2008, denied a fraud had taken place or that it was itself a victim of the fraud. The fraud approached £1Bn, though only £245m was exposed in court. It is quite clear that the fraud was known about at board level in 2008, and concealed for 8 years by senior executive directors of both HBOS and Lloyds.

Throughout that 8 years the bank had bankrupted companies they had knowingly defrauded. Personal guarantees have been plundered, huge numbers of Jobs were lost, viable companies stripped of their assets, and people were ruined on a wide scale. People ended up living in cheap hotels, families were broken up, and suicides resulted. No one at senior board level has been brought to justice. The system to recompense those defrauded through HBOS Reading is run by Lloyds and is called the Professor Griggs Review. It is not independent, it does not recompense properly, it imposes gagging orders, there has no right of appeal, a take it or leave it offer is made, and is a travesty of justice. Many defrauded through Reading are not even considered as they did not deal directly with those imprisoned, but dealt with their staff. It is a disgrace.

LIBOR and PPI skimmed billions off the top. These Asset Theft Frauds (AFT), ruined people, and the sums of money involved are as large. The main reason they have not been brought to justice is that they were confined to the UK. LIBOR was perpetrated in the USA, where they have far tighter rules, and people go to gaol for breaking them. HBOS Reading was symptomatic of what was happening on a far wider scale in other banks, notably Lloyds itself and RBS. The techniques were similar, and the individuals involved often did this through more than one branch or bank. Companies, or farming enterprises which had valuable assets were targeted. Loans were called in at no notice, in spite of the companies never having defaulted on loan payments. The company would then be bankrupted, its assets undervalued, and sold on, sometimes to personal friends of the bankers involved. The bank, through its lawyers, would then attack the personal guarantees of the company owners and directors. The bank recovered its loans, often twice over as they had been securitised. The personal guarantees that were plundered often far exceeded the amounts owing to the bank. Reading was just one branch of one bank where this was happening. I am aware of cases all over the country that have simply not been investigated, in spite of there being discussed in parliament on numerous occasions. The establishment has looked the other way. Thousands of companies have been destroyed and considerable damage has been done to the UK economy. It was well laid out in a Westminster Hall debate by Elfyn Llywd QC MP in 2014. He describes in some detail what went on in a branch of Lloyds Recoveries in Bristol. The debate can be looked up on Hansard. It is extraordinary that this has not been properly investigated.

In cases all over the country there have been no proper investigations. It is worth noting that the HBOS Bristol case had already been turned down by 2 other police forces, and by the SFO. All had said there was nothing to investigate. In 2013 an internal report was written by a senior commercial risk Manager of Lloyds. It is called the Turnbull Report. If you have not read it I suggest you do. Its author was sacked or constructively dismissed, and then savaged by a massive legal exercise against her. Her report was one of the many papers handed over by Lloyds to the Thames Valley Police, but was not relevant to the HBOS court case, and not disclosed. It has now b