A long-awaited probe into Lloyds Banking Group’s (LON:LLOY) handling of a fraud at its HBOS unit is now not likely to be completed until next year, Reuters has reported, quoting a source with knowledge of the matter. The inquiry relates to a scheme which saw corrupt employees at the HBOS Reading branch impose a firm of turnaround consultants on their small business customers in exchange for bribes.
Lloyds’ share price has been steady in London this Friday, having climbed 0.34 percent to 64.02p as of 09:01 GMT. The shares are marginally underperforming the broader UK market, with the benchmark FTSE 100 index currently standing 0.46 percent higher at 7,218.44 points.
HBOS probe will be delayed
Reuters reported last night, quoting a source with knowledge of the matter, that the long-awaited probe into what Lloyds’ executives knew of the HBOS Reading fraud was now likely to be completed next year. The investigation by retired high court judge Linda Dobbs was launched in 2017 to assess whether the bailed-out lender properly investigated and reported the fraud at HBOS, which it bought in January 2009.
“The independent Dame Linda Dobbs Review will continue to have all the time and resources it needs to complete its important work,” a spokeswoman for the FTSE 100 group told the newswire. The source added that the inquiry will begin interviewing Lloyds executives from the autumn, starting with more junior bankers and likely to include Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio.
Delay ‘totally unacceptable’
Kevin Hollinrake, chair of the cross-party parliamentary group for fair banking, meanwhile told Reuters that the delay was ‘totally unacceptable’.
“People want answers, this has been going on for 10 years and we still have not got to the bottom of this issue,” he pointed out.
Lloyds has said that while it was aware of misconduct, it could not have known about the criminal nature of the scheme until the 2017 trial.