HBOS whistleblower threatens more disclosure-report

LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - The whistleblower whose revelations about British bank HBOS led to the resignation of a top regulatory official said he had more evidence proving that the bank took excessive risks, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

Paul Moore, who said he was fired as HBOS risk officer after raising concerns over the bank’s lack of caution, also called for Prime Minister Gordon Brown to resign over his handling of the economy while he was finance minister.

HBOS was taken over by Lloyds Banking Group PLC LLOY.L last month after its share price was hammered by a loss of confidence in its ability to survive the credit crunch.

The government waived competition rules to enable the takeover to go ahead speedily, and took a 43 percent stake in the enlarged group as part of a banking sector rescue package.

Moore told the Independent on Sunday he intended to send parliament’s Treasury committee a dossier of 30 documents to prove his case.

Evidence Moore gave to the committee’s bank sector hearing last week led James Crosby to quit his role as deputy chairman of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), which regulates British banks. Crosby was chief executive of HBOS while Moore was the bank’s risk officer.

Moore also said Brown should resign.

“Brown must go. He cannot remain in office. He has presided over the biggest boom in the history of the country as well as one of the biggest busts. But he promised no more boom and bust. He must be held accountable for his failure to oversee the stability of the country,” Moore told the newspaper.

“Brown swaggers around holding himself out as the economic saviour of the world with a level of hubris that defies belief. But does he ever acknowledge that it was he, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, who presided functionally over the economic strategy that got us into this mess in the first place?”

Lloyds said on Friday that its HBOS unit made a pretax loss of 8.5 billion pounds ($12.3 billion) last year due to a bigger than expected rise in bad loans. The news wiped a third off Lloyds’ share price and raised concern it might need additional state help.

Moore said he had compiled a “meticulous record” of his time at the bank, and disputed the accuracy of an audit carried out to check his claims.

Crosby has rejected Moore’s allegation that he sacked him as a result of his warnings. He told the Sunday Telegraph that he planned to issue a “a full and detailed rebuttal on the basis of my best recollections of what took place at HBOS during the relevant period”. (Reporting by Frank Prenesti; editing by Tim Pearce)


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