Monday 14 June 2021 8:34 am

'Extraordinary': Former police chief slams Antonio Horta-Osorio's knighthood

Anthony Stansfeld, the ex-police commissioner who oversaw the investigation into the HBOS Reading fraud, has described Antonio Horta-Osorio’s knighthood as “extraordinary”.

“There are a great many companies that have been destroyed, and countless lives destroyed by the actions of Lloyds Bank while under his executive control,” Stansfeld said.

Ex-Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Horta-Osorio, who now chairs embattled Credit Suisse, received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in recognition of his contribution to financial services and to volunteer work.

The Portuguese-born banker left Lloyds Bank in April after a 10-year stint, in which he steered the lending giant back into private ownership after its financial crisis bailout.

Stansfeld, who was police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley when the fraud was investigated, said Horta-Osorio was at the helm of the bank “when it did its best to complicate and obfuscate the trial of the massive fraud perpetrated out of HBOS Reading”.

Between 2003 and 2007, six bankers deliberately pushed 200 small firms out of business before stripping their assets for personal gain. Lloyds rescued HBOS in 2008, after the fraud took place, but promised to compensate its 200 victims. But in 2019, a report by Sir Ross Cranston found that Lloyds, under Horta-Osório’s leadership, failed in its compensation.

Stansfeld said that [Horta-Osório] failed “to ensure that the many victims were properly compensated” and that he had “failed to support” whisteblower Sally Masterton, The Times first reported.

In recent inquiries into the mistakes made in the HBOS scandal, Lloyds has been criticised for attempted cover ups, “mistreating” victims, and botching a £100 million compensation payout.

Although Lloyds defended its handling of the case, in an interview with the Financial Times in April, Horta-Osório said: “We could and should have been more empathetic with customer complaints.”