Lloyds’s compensation program for HBOS victims is descending into farce

In Blog by Ian Fraser

11 July 2017

Noel Edmonds, the game show host who only recently emerged as a victim of the £1 billion HBOS fraud that I’ve been chronicling since November 2008, has produced an extraordinary series of videos in which he berates Lloyds Banking Group over its failure to meet its self-imposed deadline of 30 June for compensating the many victims of the fraud. He has also launched a website that is severely critical of Lloyds’s whole approach to compensatimg the victims.

The primary perpetrators of the fraud, including the former HBOS executives Mark Dobson and Lynden Scourfield, and the self-styled “turnaround consultants” David Mills, Tony Cartwright and Michael Bancroft, were jailed for a total of 47-and-half years on 2 February for a range of criminal offences including bribery, corruption, fraud and money-laundering. On sentencing them, Judge Beddoe said:

“This case is not simply about a corrupt bank manager lending money he should not have done to businessmen who went on to gamble with it. This case goes very much deeper than that. It primarily involves an utterly corrupt senior bank manager letting rapacious, greedy people get their hands on a vast amount of HBOS’s money and their tentacles into the businesses of ordinary decent people … and letting them rip apart those businesses, without a thought for the lives and livelihoods of those whom their actions affected, in order to satisfy their voracious desire for money and the trappings and show of wealth.”

But it seems that only one of the people whose businesses were stolen and whose livelihoods were ripped apart in the fraud have so far received any compensation from Lloyds. Furthermore Lloyds is still, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still seeking to make out that it knew nothing about the crimes committed in the Bishopsgate and Reading offices of Bank of Scotland Corporate until the HBOS six were convicted on 30 January (this was despite the fact HBOS executive Lynden Scourfield had plead guilty to his crimes on 12 August 2016, and despite many other past and recent revelations including detailed internal reports that suggest Lloyds may have been aware from before the completion of its HBOS acquisition in January 2009).

There have also been rumours that the supposedly “independent” reviewer appointed by Lloyds to oversee the compensation process, Professor Russel Griggs, is being incentivised by Lloyds to pay out as little as possible to the victims, though Lloyds denies this. He is also conflicted because he has done consultancy work for Lloyds in the recent past, and was a director of a company where one of the main shareholders was connected to David Mills.

As one of the victims, who also played a key part in exposing the scandal, Nikki Turrner, says in her most recent blog:-

“To be clear Lord Blackwell, Mr Horta-Osorio and Mr Colombas, what the victims want is their lives back or as much as we can get back. That won’t happen until they have compensation and closure. I’m guessing the way things are going, the Bank’s major shareholders would also like to see some closure on HBOS Reading before more damaging information about Lloyds is exposed in the press.

It is possible much of what is happening now is designed to wear victims down so that if and when offers of compensation come, the victims will accept anything because they are just tired of fighting. That and the fact many victims are no longer spring chickens and don’t have the time for another prolonged battle. Worse still – some have cancer or other serious conditions.

Of course I can’t prove that theory (it’s not as easy as proving the fraud) but 10 years of dealing with the senior management of Lloyds Banking Group including Sir Win Bischoff, Eric Daniels, Harry Baines, Philip Grant, Antonio Horta-Osorio, Juan Colombas and, more recently, Lord Blackwell, has not instilled any confidence and even if I would like to believe what Lord Blackwell wrote in his letter, I am now struggling.”

However Lloyds does seem to be doing something right. Because it missed its own self-imposed deadline of 30 June, it handed a £35,000 ex gratia payment to all 67 of the victims it has identified so far.

Photo of the exterior of a Lloyds Bank branch in Manchester was taken by Moneybright and released under Creative Commons Attribution licensing www.moneybright.co.uk