UPDATE 1-Former Bradford & Bingley finance chief faces 2nd probe

Tue Jan 21, 2014 4:51am EST

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LONDON Jan 21 (Reuters) - Britain's accounting watchdog has launched an investigation into the conduct of Chris Willford, the former group finance director at Bradford & Bingley bank which was split up and partly bailed out by the taxpayer during the financial crisis.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said on Tuesday it had launched the action after another regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), fined Willford 30,000 pounds ($49,300) in December for failures during an emergency cash call in 2008 at the bank.

The FCA said last month that Willford, a qualified accountant and therefore also under the remit of the FRC, had failed to alert the bank's board to potential risks such as details about profits, mortgage arrears and re-possessions, at the height of the credit crisis.

The bank was eventually split into two, its deposits and branches were sold to Santander, while its loans remained with the government.

Lawyers have said the Willford case is a further sign of how regulators are trying to bring individuals, rather than just companies, to book after the financial crisis left taxpayers nursing big bills to prop up lenders.

The FRC has powers to fine and ban an accountant from practising.

Willford could not immediately be contacted for comment.

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