FRC reaches settlement with former Bradford & Bingley FD

THE FINANCIAL REPORTING COUNCIL has reached a settlement with former Bradford & Bingley financial director Chris Willford over misconduct during the 2008 financial crisis.

In January, the reporting watchdog confirmed a formal investigation into Willford’s role in the run up to a government bailout of the bank, following a failed £400m rights issue.

Today, the FRC confirmed it had agreed a £13,000 settlement with CIMA member Willford, a 35% reduction on the maximum fine to reflect his “settlement at the earliest in accordance with the FRC’s Sanctions Guidance”.

Under the agreement, Willford will also pay £250 costs to cover the executive counsel’s investigation and receive a reprimand for his “misconduct”.

The FRC’s probe came after the results of a Financial Conduct Authority inquiry were published in December 2013. CIMA member Willford failed to update the bank’s board about its deteriorating financial position after receiving crucial information in May 2008 regarding Bradford & Bingley’s outlook, the FCA ruled.

Willford received a £30,000 fine from the FCA for failing to have “proper regard” to information made available between 16 May and 19 May 2008, which was of relevance to the rights issue.

The finance watchdog’s findings were “conclusive evidence of misconduct by Mr Willford for the purposes of the FRC Accountancy Scheme”, the FRC added.

FRC executive director of conduct Paul George said: “This case shows the high standards of professional conduct expected from accountants who take up executive positions in business.”

The organisation’s disciplinary regime was overhauled last year, after criticisms of the effectiveness of its sanctions. It allowed for settlements to be accepted in cases of wrongdoing to avoid a lengthy investigation.

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