The former chief executive of HBOS, Sir James Crosby, has offered to hand back his knighthood and take a 30% cut in his £580,000 annual pension. He succumbed to political pressure after a report last week by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in which the bank's former leadership was lambasted for presiding over a "colossal failure". Crosby has also relinquished his role as senior independent director at Compass.
What the commentators said
"At last", said The Independent, "a banker shows some responsibility." Never mind that it took last week's damning report, which identified Crosby as the architect of the strategy that led to HBOS needing a £21bn bail-out and a forced merger with Lloyds, to prompt him to take action. He has now done the right thing "and for that he should be applauded".
But "don't cry too hard" for him, said James Moore, also in The Independent. No doubt he will "muddle through comfortably enough" on a six-figure sum each year. And unlike RBS's Fred Goodwin, who was stripped of his knighthood, Crosby sold most of his own stock before it became worthless.
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Some will say that Crosby has been harshly treated, as he and his bank were "merely creatures of the political, banking, and regulatory climate of the time", said Nils Pratley in The Guardian. It's true that bankers were "egged on" by politicians while the Financial Services Authority "was asleep on the job". But ultimately the first duty of a bank boss is to make sure the institution doesn't go bust.
"If you fail in that duty", the "gentle" political and regulatory environment is no excuse. What's more, said Rowan Bosworth-Davies in The Independent, anyone who reckons that the financial sector is being unfairly picked on should consider this: despite a "whole range of serious crimes" committed by the banking sector in recent years, "not one banker has been prosecuted".
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