Cable wants to ban HBOS heads from top jobs

Tim Wallace
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VINCE Cable is pushing for failed bank HBOS’ former directors to be banned from heading firms under laws governing company bosses, the business secretary revealed yesterday.

But he is waiting for ongoing investigations to be completed before acting, which could take until the autumn.

MPs on the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) last week called for former HBOS chairman Lord Stevenson and chief executives Andy Hornby and Sir James Crosby to be banned from working in financial services for life.

Sir James in particular is under pressure to leave his job as non-executive director at Compass Group, after revelations his £25m pension pot from HBOS will pay him £700,000 a year.

While there are no plans for him to leave Compass immediately, it is understood that Sir James might not have a future at the group beyond the end of the year. On Friday, he stood down as an adviser to private equity firm Bridgepoint.

New City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is investigating the bank’s collapse, but the review only got under way in the last week.

Part of the reason it has taken so long to begin is that the TSC has appointed external advisers, including a former Treasury official and the chief of the Chelsea Building Society to monitor the report.

On top of that, everyone mentioned by name in the report is given a right to challenge it, again taking up more time. However the FCA does not have powers to ban individuals who are not already approved to work in finance.

Instead it falls to the business secretary to ban them from holding directorships of any firm – something Cable is thought to be keen to do.

But sources close to the business secretary argue he has to wait until all the evidence is in place before acting.

“The Business Secretary has instructed officials at the Insolvency Service to look into the FCA report when it is published to see whether there are matters that could lead to further action,” said a spokesperson.