The full scale of big banks' lobbying of the Chancellor, George Osborne, to get him to water down banking reforms can be revealed today. Senior bank executives met or called Treasury ministers nine times in the weeks after Sir John Vickers published his landmark proposals on how to prevent another banking crisis, The Independent can reveal.
Bank bosses are fighting furiously behind the scenes to limit any changes to the way they do business. Fears are growing – articulated by Sir John himself – that the banks are successfully thwarting the Government's plans to overhaul the British banking system and the Treasury is weakening some of the key reforms as a result of intense lobbying.
Mr Osborne also personally met the Barclays boss Bob Diamond, the Royal Bank of Scotland's Stephen Hester and Lloyds' Antonio Horta-Osorio on separate occasions in the days before the Vickers report.
Mr Osborne will announce his official response to the Vickers Independent Commission on Banking proposals on Monday – it is certain to be scrutinised for any sign that the Government's resolve to tackle the sector has been weakened.
The commission recommended that banks should be required to "ring fence" their high street banking operations away from their "casino" investment operations; and to increase their capital buffers in order to reduce the chances of British taxpayers being forced to rescue them in future. (Taxpayers had to pump in £65.9bn to save Lloyds, RBS and HBOS.)
The full list of contacts between bankers and ministers, revealed through a request under the Freedom of Information Act by The Independent, shows that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban held meetings with Mr Hester of RBS, Mr Diamond, and Douglas Flint of HSBC in the nine days after the release of the Vickers report in September as they lobbied against the plans. The largest banks have warned that the reforms could harm the economy and threatened to move their headquarters out of Britain.More...