Ex-B&B finance chief fined for cash call failings

THE FORMER finance director of Bradford & Bingley (B&B) has been fined £30,000 for failings related to a 2008 cash call, as the regulator forces board members to take responsibility for their actions.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said yesterday Christopher Willford had failed to alert the board to potential risks such as details about profits, mortgage arrears and re-possessions, at the height of the credit crisis five years ago.

The fine is an attempt by the FCA to bring individuals to book after the financial crisis left taxpayers nursing big bills to prop up the financial industry. “Willford failed to identify and investigate potentially material risks, or alert the board, at a crucial time for the firm,” said Tracey McDermott, head of the FCA’s financial crime and enforcement division.

“His conduct fell short of the FCA’s standards – senior managers should expect the FCA to take action if they fail to show due skill, care and diligence.”

Bradford & Bingley, which specialised in buy-to-let mortgages, tried to raise £400m from a rights issue in 2008 but investors baulked and the underwriters were left with much of the stock. The bank was subsequently nationalised.

The FCA said Willford had received information on 16 May 2008 that suggested B&B’s financial outlook might be weaker than expected. He failed to immediately raise this with the board so that it could investigate and ensure financial information provided to shareholders about the rights issue on 19 May was correct.