Former Bradford & Bingley finance chief probed by watchdog

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THE former finance director at the collapsed bank Bradford & Bingley is being investigated by the accountancy 
watchdog.

The Financial Reporting 
Council, which has the power to ban, suspend and fine accountants, has opened an investigation into Christopher Willford, who was the FD at Bradford & Bingley from 2005 to 2009.

The FRC monitors and takes action to promote the quality of corporate reporting and auditing. It operates a disciplinary system for accountants and actuaries and oversees the regulatory activities of the accountancy and actuarial professional bodies.

In a statement, the FRC said: “Following the final notice issued by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) in December 2013, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has launched an 
investigation under the accountancy scheme into the conduct of Chris Willford, the former group finance director at Bradford & Bingley.”

Last month, the City regulator slashed a fine to be paid by Mr Willford to a fraction of the £150,000 penalty initially proposed.

Mr Willford – who previously lost a legal fight to keep his name secret – was instead ordered to pay £30,000 for failings ahead of a £300m rights issue at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

In May 2010, regulators had proposed a £150,000 fine but following submissions from lawyers and a tribunal hearing, where he 
gave evidence, this was cut to £100,000.

Last month, the FCA narrowed the scope and timing of the misconduct to three days in May 2008 while acknowledging that he was under intense pressure.

It said it did not find that Mr Willford’s conduct caused the failure of the rights issue or the subsequent nationalisation of Bradford & Bingley following its collapse. The FCA found he had failed to provide the board with up-to-date information about the bank’s financial position ahead of the rights issue.

Since 2011, Mr Willford has been the chief operating officer of My Wealth Cloud, a company that digitises paper documents and stores them online.

According to the My Wealth Cloud website, Mr Willford was previously group treasurer at 
British Airways, and finance 
director of Barclays UK Retail Bank

At My Wealth Cloud he is responsible “for creating and overseeing the ongoing development of the business and financial model both in the UK and overseas”.

Mr Willford did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.