Bank employee who fell to his death 'was questioned in inquiry'

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The Independent Online

A bank worker apparently jumped to his death from a fifth-floor balcony after being questioned as part of an internal investigation.

A bank worker apparently jumped to his death from a fifth-floor balcony after being questioned as part of an internal investigation.

The man's body was found at Abbey National's London headquarters after a corporate detective agency was brought in to determine who had compiled a document sent anonymously to managers.

Abbey National had launched its own investigation after senior managers were sent the report, which contained claims of impropriety regarding contracts awarded to third parties. The report was threatening in tone and extremely abusive about certain senior managers. Managers were reportedly warned that if the allegations were not studied in detail, the report would be passed to other institutions in the City.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, Luqman Arnold, the bank's chief executive, initially ordered a secret invest-igation to establish whether the allegations - which included sexual material - had any substance. It was led by Abbey National's company secretary, Karen Fortunato, who found there was no substance to the claims and that contracts had been awarded fairly.

The detective agency was then brought in to establish who had compiled the document. It is believed to have interviewed a man who later fell to his death from the balcony of the bank's headquarters. It is expected to send the conclusions of its inquiry to the bank later this year.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed that a man's body had been found in Triton Square just before 2pm on 13 July, and that he was believed to have committed suicide. "At the time we described it as a non-suspicious death and it now passes into the hands of the coroner," she said.

Abbey National is the subject of a takeover offer by the Spanish bank, Banco Santander Central Hispano, valuing it at about £8bn. Despite continued speculation that a UK rival may step in with a counter-bid, Abbey National said last week that it remained committed to the offer.

The offer, which secured the support of the Abbey board last month, has so far received a lacklustre response from investors.

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