The former chief executive of HBOS, Sir James Crosby, has apologised in front of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards for his role at the bank in the lead up to the financial crisis. Telling MPs that the lending which took place at the bank was “incompetent”, he also said he didn’t think he would ever be allowed to run a bank again, nor did he give any indication that he would wish to do so again.
The main issue facing Crosby is that it was his plans, put in place before the financial crisis took place, that steered HBOS to ruin and resulted in so much taxpayer money being needed to bail out the Royal Bank of Scotland.
One of the biggest issues during Crosby’s statements were those where he had to recall his interactions with Andy Hornby, who was running the retail side of the business whilst Crosby was in charge of the investment side. There were reports that Crosby had lost his temper with Hornby on occasion, but Crosby said that he couldn’t recall that. For his part, Hornby said that he “bitterly regrets” not expecting the wholesale markets to close.
The two were being questioned because of the way that the collapse of the investment arm, which played with huge sums of money on international markets, was linked with the retail arm, which was in charge of customers’ savings accounts and loans. The money from customers was used to invest in global markets, so when it collapsed, people found that there was a risk of their money, thought to be safely stored with the bank, being lost.
It’s one of the biggest appearances in front of the commission so far, and really highlights the relationship that is currently in place between the retail and investment arms of banks.