Revealed: banks' secret meetings with ministers


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The Independent Online

The full scale of big banks' lobbying of the Chancellor George Osborne to get him to water down banking reforms can be revealed today: senior bank executives met or called Treasury ministers nine times in the weeks after Sir John Vickers published his landmark proposals on how to prevent another banking crisis.

In addition, Mr Osborne personally met with the Barclays boss Bob Diamond, the Royal Bank of Scotland's Stephen Hester and Lloyds' Antonio Horta-Osorio on separate occasions.

Bank bosses are fighting furiously behind the scenes to limit any changes to the way they handle money. Fears are growing – articulated by Sir John himself – that the banks are successfully nobbling the Government's plans to overhaul the British banking system, and that the Treasury is weakening some of the key reforms as a result of the lobbying.

The Chancellor will announce his official response to the Vickers Independent Commission on Banking proposals on Monday – certain to be scrutinised for any sign that the Government's resolve to tackle the hostile sector has been weakened.

The Commission recommended that banks should be required to "ring fence" their high-street banking operations away from their "casino" investment operations; and to increase their capital buffers in order to reduce the chances of British taxpayers being forced to rescue them in future.

There have been reports that the Treasury is preparing to water down key elements.