Ex-HBOS staff charged over £35m of loans

FORMER senior bankers at Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) were yesterday charged with corruption over £35m of loans made while they were at the bank.

Lynden Scourfield, 50, and Mark Dobson, 52 are among eight people accused of making the fraudulent business loans through a turnaround consultancy in exchange for “high-value gifts” between 2003 and 2010.

Scourfield and Dobson worked at HBOS’s Reading and London offices during the seven-year period.

Also charged were David Mills and Michael Bancroft, employees of the Quayside Corporate Services (QCS) consultancy, who allegedly provided the kickbacks in return for being assigned the loans to administer.

The charges follow a two-year investigation from Thames Valley Police under the codename Operation Hornet. The force’s Economic Crime Unit investigated the allegations after the Financial Services Authority raised warnings over the former bankers’ activity.

The four other people charged in the investigation are John Cartright, described as an associate at QCS, and the wives of Scourfield, Mills and Bancroft, who, with their husbands are accused of money laundering. Their names are Jacqueline Scourfield, Alison Mills and Beverley Bancroft.

The allegations are the second scandal regarding HBOS to emerge in months, after former corporate lending head Peter Cummings was banned for life from working in the financial services industry for failure to exercise due diligence. Cummings is not connected in any way to the present alleged fraud.

HBOS bank was taken over by Lloyds for £12bn in 2009. A spokesperson for Lloyds said yesterday: “We cannot comment on the detail of this investigation by Thames Valley Police or on the charges that have been brought.

“Neither Bank of Scotland nor Lloyds Banking Group is the subject of the investigation. We have been assisting the Police with their investigation and will continue to do so.”

The eight were released on bail yesterday and will appear at Reading Magistrates’ Court on 18 January.

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