How did such a man be­come boss of bank?

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

LON­DON: He was a bank boss, but had no ap­par­ent bank­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. He was a Methodist min­is­ter, but got busted for al­legedly buy­ing co­caine and down­load­ing porn at work.

The spec­tac­u­lar down­fall of Paul Flow­ers, the for­mer chair­man of Bri­tain’s Co-op­er­a­tive Bank, was a tale made for the splashy Bri­tish tabloids.

His trou­bles be­gan with the near col­lapse of the bank he was head­ing, but came to a head this week when a news­pa­per re­leased footage that showed him han­dling over cash to a dealer sell­ing hard drugs in­clud­ing crys­tal meth and ke­tamine.

Flow­ers, 63, has apol­o­gised for his “stupid and wrong be­hav­iour,” but his hu­mil­i­a­tion con­tin­ues as more shad­owy de­tails are dug up about his life.

It emerged this week that the for­mer banker and min­is­ter was found with “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” adult ma­te­rial on his work com­puter when he was a lo­cal of­fi­cial for the op­po­si­tion Labour Party in 2011.

And on Thurs­day, the Methodist Church in Bri­tain said Flow­ers was dis­ci­plined and briefly sus­pended af­ter he was con­victed of drunk driv­ing and an act of gross inde- cency years ago.

Those rev­e­la­tions, to­gether with Flow­ers’ poor lead­er­ship of his bank, left many in dis­be­lief: how did a man like him be­come ap­pointed as a bank chair­man in the first place?

That was the ques­tion asked by UK prime min­is­ter David Cameron, who on Wed­nes­day or­dered an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into the role of Flow­ers at the Co-op. Flow­ers, who stepped down in June af­ter three years at the bank, is al­ready un­der po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion for the drug al­le­ga­tions.

“Rev­erend Flow­ers has deeply let down the peo­ple who en­trusted him to be the chair of the bank,” said Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party. “Ob­vi­ously he has deep ques­tions to an­swer about that.”

Flow­ers first came un­der scru­tiny late last m0nth, when he failed to an­swer ba­sic ques­tions about his bank at a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee. The com­pany has since fallen deeper into fi­nan­cial trou­ble. It has had to plug a £1.5 bil­lion (R24.5bn) hole in its fi­nances, and re­cently agreed to a bailout plan by hedge funds.

But it was his per­sonal life that be­came the sub­ject of scan­dal this week, when the Mail on Sun­day said it had filmed Flow­ers buy­ing the drugs in a car just days af­ter the com­mit­tee hear­ing.

“This year has been in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult with a death in the fam­ily and the pres­sures of my role with the Co-op­er­a­tive Bank,” Flow­ers said. “I am sorry for this, and I am seek­ing pro­fes­sional help.”

Since the pub­li­ca­tion of that footage, Flow­ers has been sus­pended from his church and the Labour Party. The chair­man of the Co-op Group, which owns the bank, also re­signed on Tues­day as the scan­dal con­tin­ued to grow. – Sapa-AP

DRUGS, PORN: Paul Flow­ers

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