Lloyds knew about the massive fraud for 10 years
Sir, I read with a certain amount of surprise the letter (October 10) from Lord Norman Blackwell and António Horta-Osório, the chairman and chief executive of the Lloyds Banking Group. It does not reflect what I have seen. For 10 years Lloyds knew a massive fraud had taken place within the Reading branch of HBOS. Throughout that period the bank conducted aggressive attacks on the personal guarantees of those defrauded. One family had 11 attempts to dispossess them of their home. Even when a senior banker, Lynden Scourfield, had pleaded guilty, the bank refused to talk to those it had defrauded, for several further months. It was not until February of this year after the guilty verdicts that the bank eventually admitted it would have to provide compensation. Some of the smaller victims may have been compensated; however, as far as I am aware, none of the larger frauds has been compensated, and I doubt if even 5 per cent of the overall compensation that is due has been refunded. I cannot take the independent Dame Linda Dobbs review seriously. It would require considerable administrative assistance to begin to get into the detail of what went on. What assistance she has is provided by the very Lloyds lawyers who managed to spin the case over several years. The only reason that the police investigation took so long, and cost Thames Valley Police nearly £7m, was the lack of full-hearted support from Lloyds. There is ample evidence of this. For Lord Blackwell to attempt to blame the police for the length of time the case took is unacceptable. The major problem we seem to have with banking today is that so few of the board members of banks are qualified bankers, and the rush for short-term profit and bonuses has distorted proper banking practice. The massive frauds at Reading are only part of similar frauds that went on elsewhere. As I have pointed out before, if Thames Valley Police had not investigated this case no other police force, nor the Serious Fraud Office, would have taken it on.
Anthony Stansfeld Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Force Headquarters, Kidlington, Oxon, UK