I wished I was dead: Man who blew the whistle on disgraced HBOS bosses

A BANKING whistleblower whose explosive revelations led to the resignation of one of the most powerful men in finance has revealed how lifting the lid at times left him wishing he was dead.

Picture: PA

Alcoholism and depression plagued Paul Moore in the years after he exposed HBOS’ aggressive growth strategy that ultimately led to a £20bn tax payer bail out to stop it from going under.

Mr Moore, the bank’s former head of risk, who lives near Ampleforth with his family, has told of his recovery after being fired from the bank, being shunned by the banking community and his fight for truth in his new book Crash, Bank, Wallop,

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“For me and my family, the whole experience has been nothing short of horrendous. It’s had a huge impact on my health and career and my family has suffered terribly.

“At times I’ve been in some very dark places and on hundreds of occasions I’ve wished I was dead. My wife Maureen has been my ‘rock’ and without her I’m certain I wouldn’t be alive today,” said Mr Moore, now 56, who spent his career climbing the ladder of the finance sector, before his sacking meant he was effectively black-listed.

“When the book describes how it nearly killed me, it’s serious.

“I got very suicidal at times. It completely pulls the rug from under you and ordinary life. My children got caught in the cross fire, my wife got caught in the cross fire but ultimately what appeared to be utter distress has turned into an amazing grace.”

Mr Moore publicly blew the whistle after the multi-billion-pound collapse of HBOS during the 2008 banking crisis.

His evidence to the Treasury Select committee in 2009 eventually led to Sir James Crosby, the former chief executive of HBOS, resigning from his post and giving up his knighthood as awarded by Gordon Brown, and a chunk of his pension.

As head of group regulatory risk at HBOS from 2002 to 2005, Mr Moore claims he repeatedly warned the bank was ‘going too fast’ in terms of growth and he had concerns about their ‘stack em high, sell at all costs’ culture.

He was sacked in November 2004 at HBOS’ operating base in Halifax by James Crosby. At the time the bank was the town’s largest employer providing 6,000 jobs. Nationwide more than 40,000 people were left unemployed as HBOS was propped up by the tax payer and Lloyds Bank.

Alongside the book, which is already on sale but will be officially launched in the region later this month, comes new publishing venture and fledgling grassroots movement New Wilberforce, set up by Mr Moore and Labour MP for Huddersfield Barry Sheerman is a patron.

The name takes its inspiration clearly from William Wilberforce, whose fight against the slave trade is in Mr Moore’s mind the most poignant example of whistleblowing’s capacity for good. He wants to make finance fair and restore ethics to society.

And despite the years ticking by since the global wake-up call of the financial crash, the father-of-three still thinks little has changed in a banking sector since its catastrophic meltdown and is keen to try and promote fairer practice.

He predicts another crisis will happen within 18 months.

He said: “People at all levels of society in Britain are fed up and even angry that nothing’s really changed in banking seven years after the worst financial crisis in our history. We are still suffering the consequences of it and want something done about it.

“The majority of bankers are good and honest people and desperately want things to change so they can rebuild the reputation of their industry and be proud of their profession, but we have gone badly astray.

“The whole banking system is broken and needs total reform. We have to get to the bottom of what caused the crisis and what needs to be done to prevent it happening again, which it will.

“Where criminal wrongdoing has taken place then prosecutions must follow.”

Mr Sheerman said the book is a long awaited full exposure of the ‘rottenness’ of those who took over a successful British bank and drove it to ruin.

He said: “Paul Moore, the brave ethical whistleblower who valiantly tried to warn us of impending disaster, has never been compensated for his sacrifice.”