Lloyds ex­tends dead­line for fraud vic­tims

The Guardian - - FINANCIAL - Jill Tre­anor and Mark Sweney

Lloyds Bank­ing Group is ex­pected to ex­tend the dead­line for mak­ing com­pen­sa­tion of­fers to vic­tims of the HBOS Read­ing fraud, as it emerged that only one of 64 af­fected customers has re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion.

Lloyds had pledged to make of­fers to all of them by the end of June. The com­pen­sa­tion is to come from £100m the bank has set aside for the vic­tims. Six peo­ple were jailed in Fe­bru­ary for the fraud, which took place be­tween 2003 and 2007 be­fore Lloyds bought HBOS, and the bank ap­pointed Prof Russel Griggs as an in­de­pen­dent re­viewer.

Lloyds would not say how many com­pen­sa­tion of­fers have been made, but it is thought that just one of the 64 – a group that in­cludes the TV celebrity Noel Ed­monds – has agreed to the terms and re­ceived pay­ment. Some of the vic­tims lost their com­pa­nies, liveli­hoods and even their homes as a re­sult of the loans scam.

Ed­monds, who is seek­ing £73m for what he claims is the de­struc­tion of his busi­ness em­pire Unique, has ac­cused the bank of “foot drag­ging” over com­pen­sa­tion pay­outs to vic­tims. His lawyers de­scribed the process for claim­ing com­pen­sa­tion as a “cha­rade de­signed to cause de­lay and wear down my client”.

Jonathan Coad at Key­stone Law has re­ceived cor­re­spon­dence show­ing Griggs has hired a “team of pro­fes­sional ad­vis­ers” to as­sist him, thought to be the ac­coun­tancy firms RSM, and Mercer & Hole.

Griggs, a for­mer chair of the small busi­ness coun­cil at the CBI, said: “The re­view is mak­ing good progress, and I am pleased with how many customers are com­ing for­ward and speak­ing to us pro­duc­tively.

“We have al­ready made some of­fers to customers and have started to re­ceive ac­cep­tances. We do recog­nise, how­ever, that some customers may need longer to pro­vide their in­put and we will give them the time they need.”

Coad ar­gued that vic­tims of the fraud were de­pen­dent on Lloyds’ as­sess­ment of the level of com­pen­sa­tion. The sys­tem was “de­signed to cheat HBOS fraud vic­tims from their le­git­i­mate en­ti­tle­ment by way of com­pen­sa­tion,” he said.

Lloyds said: “Part of [Griggs’] role is to agree the in­di­vid­ual case out­comes, and to en­sure that th­ese out­comes are fair. He will make his de­ci­sions in­de­pen­dently.”

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