19 January 2012
Another whistleblower has emerged from inside Lloyds Banking Group with well-documented evidence of illegal sales practices in the bank’s retail arm.
Ex-Army officer and former UBS and Towry Law executive Ian Taplin was fired by Lloyds in August 2010 after he sought to alert its senior management and board of directors to the alleged unlawful behaviour and fraud.
After being bullied, stonewalled and eventually fired, Taplin set up a public interest website, Don’t bank on Lloyds ethics, with a view to alerting the British public both to the shenanigans themselves and to the willful blindness the bank’s board of directors, led by chairman Sir Win Bischoff. On the website, Taplin writes:
“The site has been set up to expose examples of Lloyds Banking Group acting unethically and unlawfully and against the public wellbeing and against the interests of the British people.”
Taplin, 53, was an executive in Lloyds TSB’s private banking and wealth management arm from 2005-10. In December 2009, January 2010 and April 2010, he made formal complaints to Lloyds managers, board directors and CEO Eric Daniels about staff dishonesty and the unfair treatment of customers – providing all three groups with detailed evidence of the alleged unlawful behaviour and practices.
Taplin’s legitimate complaints – just like those of earlier HBOS and Lloyds whistleblowers including Graham Milne and Paul Moore before him – were ignored by the bank. Just like Moore and Milne he was then subjected to a shabby campaign of “bullying, intimidation and threatening behaviour” by management, before eventually being fired.
The practices and behaviours highlighted by Taplin relate to the unfair maximisation of charges and bonuses at the expense of clients and the abuse of customers’ trust. In particular, they relate to the bank’s illegal discrimination on the basis of customers’ wealth. Clients with investable assets of more than £100,000 paid much lower charges on their savings and investment products than less well off clients.
He says the practices and behaviours were widespread across the bank’s UK retail sales operations, where brands include Lloyds TSB, Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Scottish Widows, Cheltenham & Gloucester and Intelligent Finance. Taplin said: “Such behaviours , I believe, are not only unethical they are also unlawful*. These sales practices are I believe still in place.”
The practices and behaviours have led to hundreds of thousands of UK customers being fleeced, said Taplin.
“Also, through the medium of this website, I will explain how bank staff exploited the sales policy to enhance their own bonuses at the expense of others in the bank, and also what I allege are examples of internal fraud. I will also explain, with my allegations, how the investing public have been put at a substantial financial disadvantage, nationwide. My long-running dispute with Lloyds is about examples of unlawful and unethical behaviour by certain bank staff.
“I intend to write about the allegations of professional misconduct, not about the actual persons involved. I hold no thoughts of malice towards any bank staff. This is not a personal vendetta; it is about professional misconduct. It is undertaken for the public wellbeing and the integrity of the financial services industry and the the integrity of the associated regulatory and legal framework in our Parliamentary democracy. The bank’s clients and the British public deserve to know about what I encountered when working at Lloyds.”