10th December 2019
SME Alliance demands immediate fair compensation for all HBOS Reading victims following Sir Ross Cranston QC’s damning ruling on Lloyds’ scheme
SME Alliance, the support, knowledge sharing and lobby group, has called on Lloyds Banking Group to immediately offer fair compensation for all HBOS Reading victims after the bank has agreed to a review of all the cases following the criticism of its resolution scheme by Sir Ross Cranston QC.
Sir Ross was appointed by Lloyds to review the compensation scheme launched after six people, including two former HBOS bankers, were convicted of fraud in January 2017. At the time Lloyds CEO said António Horta-Osório: “We are absolutely determined that victims of the crimes committed at HBOS Reading are fairly, swiftly and appropriately compensated.”
However, many victims found the scheme, run by Lloyds’ appointee Professor Russel Griggs, to be anything but. A report by Jonathan Laidlaw QC, commissioned by SME Alliance, found the Griggs process to be “procedurally defective and “unfair” and its methodology and guiding principles “flawed and appear partial to LBG’s interests”.
Sir Ross agreed with these findings, saying the review was “neither fair nor reasonable” and called for a review of all compensation payments, and for Lloyds to allow victims to see its documentation. Lloyds has accepted this.
Nikki Turner, outgoing director of SME Alliance, said: “While we welcome Sir Ross’s
conclusions, and the commitment by Lloyds to review the cases again, we are concerned about how long this might take. It is nearly three years since the guilty verdicts were handed down, and a decade and a half since many of the frauds took place. Victims are suffering real hardship, many lost their businesses, homes and – in some cases – families. They need fair restitution now.
“Lloyds, and António Horta-Osório in particular, might want to reflect on whether they have lived up to the promises they made nearly three years ago. It is important to note that the ‘distress and inconvenience’ payments from the bank were ones made without admitting any culpability or liability, and were only made on the condition of victims accepting onerous non-disclosure clauses and dropping any further claims.
“The bank also needs to open up the compensation process to those it has refused to help, and to those who may have opted out because of what Sir Ross describes as the ‘opacity’ of the scheme. This all needs to be actioned rapidly, fairly and transparently.
“We are grateful to Sir Ross and his team for their hard work, thoroughness and fairness. We also thank the FCA for pressurising Lloyds to finally appoint an independent arbiter.”