Rehabilitation for Britain's disgraced bankers too
America is is not alone in successfully rehabilitating those who have been painted as the villains of the credit crunch: if anything, Britain has been quicker to give once-vilified bankers a second chance.
Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of one of the set-piece events of the financial crisis: the appearance of Sir Fred Goodwin and Sir Tom McKillop of Royal Bank of Scotland and Andy Hornby and Lord Stevenson of HBOS in front of the Treasury Select Committee. A year after MPs grilled them about the credit crisis they were accused of engineering, all four have left the banks behind them, but are not short of gainful employment.
Even the former RBS chief executive Sir Fred, who fled to France in the aftermath of the crisis, has got a new job. He was taken on as a consultant last month by the Scottish architectural consultancy RMJM. Meanwhile, his old boss Sir Tom kept lucrative non-executive directorships for a period and then secured a new post at a Belgian pharmaceutical company.
Andy Hornby is doing even better. The last chief executive of HBOS before it had to be rescued by a Lloyds takeover, Mr Hornby is now the chief executive of Alliance Boots, the privately owned chemists' chain. Were it to be publicly quoted, the company would easily be a member of the FTSE 100 index – it is certainly a bigger business than HBOS these days. Lord Stevenson, the HBOS chairman until its demise, also has a string of interests.
Other failed bankers have been fortunate, too. You might think that Adam Applegarth, the chief executive of Northern Rock, the first bank in Britain in living memory to see a run on its assets, would be unemployable. Apparently not: he now works as an adviser to the private equity group Apollo, advising on, of all things, investments in distressed loans.
There is work for the parole board to do yet, however. Johnny Cameron, a prominent RBS investment banker, had to step down from a new role at the recruitment consultancy Odgers Berndtson last autumn after it lost a contract with UK Financial Investments, the government agency that runs the taxpayers' stakes in our failed banks. No doubt he will be back.
As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”
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