Names of Hambro staff facing action revealed

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The Independent Online
The names of Hambros employees facing possible disciplinary action in the wake of the failed bid for the Co-op emerged yesterday. It can also be revealed that the three corporate financiers sacked this week by the bank lost their jobs without being shown the report that condemned them.

Nigel Pantling, Peter Large and Andrew Salmon were allowed to defend themselves against individual criticisms but were not shown the findings of the final report into Hambro's role in advising Andrew Regan on his aborted pounds 1.2bn bid for the Co-operative Wholesale Society.

The secret report, which Hambros said on Thursday it was unable to publish for legal reasons, has also been kept from the senior corporate finance and banking staff who kept their jobs but face possible disciplinary action by the bank.

The members of the Hambros corporate finance and banking teams who face possible internal disciplinary action emerged yesterday. Working in corporate finance with Peter Large and Andrew Salmon, both of whom were directors, was assistant director Geoff Austin. They were supported on the bid by Gerry Lynch, a director of Hambros banking division, and Alan Archer, assistant director.

Also involved in advising Andrew Regan and his takeover vehicle Galileo was Roger Barnes, a director of Hambros and a former head of supervision at the Bank of England. He is understood to have made representations to the Bank of England over the possible sale to Allied Irish Bank of the Co-operative Bank in the event of the bid for the CWS being successful.

Other names of key professionals advising Galileo to have emerged yesterday included Kevin Dunn and Margaret Moore, both partners at Travers Smith Braithwaite, the firm of solicitors. They worked with Nigel Campion Smith, the partner at the firm who resigned last Monday to reduce the "embarrassment" the affair had caused it.

Travers Smith's managing partner Alasdair Douglas refused to say whether further resignations would follow the departure of Mr Campion Smith nor whether he was leaving as a result of the findings of the Norton Rose report.

The report from the Norton Rose law firm has been seen only by the directors of Hambros, the bank's publicly quoted holding company, fuelling suspicions that it is highly critical of senior staff. Its contents, shrouded in secrecy thanks to the terms of the Banking Act under which it was conducted, have been passed on to the Bank of England and the Securities and Futures Authority.

The two regulators are expected to focus on the flow of information from these teams of advisers to senior staff at Hambros Bank, including its chairman Sir Chips Keswick who takes over shortly from Lord Hambro as chairman of the bank's publicly quoted holding company.

The fact that Hambros is unable for legal reasons to publish the Norton Rose report leaves unclear the extent to which more senior executives than Mr Pantling were involved. Senior bankers said yesterday, however, that in problem cases such as the CWS affair it would be extremely unlikely that decisions would be taken solely within a bank's corporate finance division.

The CWS affair has caused Hambros enormous reputational damage, according to rivals. Although existing clients are understood to have stood by the bank, it is thought to be struggling to attract new clients in the wake of the affair.