UK government didn't interfere in Lloyds branch sale -Osborne

LONDON, April 3 Thu Apr 3, 2014 5:29am EDT

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LONDON, April 3 (Reuters) - Britain's finance ministry did not interfere in the process of state-backed Lloyds Banking Group's planned sale of hundreds of branches to the Co-operative Bank, finance minister George Osborne told lawmakers.

The Treasury Select Committee, which examines the work of the Treasury, has conducted an inquiry into whether there was undue political pressure applied to Lloyds or on the regulator to clear the way for the bank to sell 631 branches to the Co-op.

Lloyds was ordered to sell the branches, code named Verde, by European regulators as a condition of its 20.5 billion pound ($34.1 billion) bailout during the 2008/9 financial crisis.

"Ministers and officials made clear to the FSA (Financial Services Authority) that the regulatory decision on whether to allow the Co-op/Verde deal to proceed - and, in particular, the prudential judgment on whether there were financial stability concerns from doing so - was a matter wholly and solely for it. At no point, did the Treasury seek to interfere in those judgments," Osborne said in a letter to Committee Chairman Andre Tyrie. ($1 = 0.6012 British Pounds) (Reporting by Matt Scuffham)

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