MPs grill Bradford and Bingley chiefs

25-11-2008

MPs grill Bradford and Bingley chiefs
The heads of rescued bank Bradford & Bingley (B&B) have been accused of acting like a "financial Michael Fish" prior to its nationalisation.

Treasury committee chairman John McFall wanted to know why B&B had stated it was in a strong position on Thursday October 25th – after it dropped its mortgage business - but over the next weekend it was nationalised.

Richard Pym, chief executive of B&B, defended the statement by saying it was "true at the time".

"We were strongly capitalised, one of the strongest in the UK, if not Europe. We were a strong savings bank," he told MPs in Westminster.

He explained as media reports grew about the fate of the bank, £26million was taken out of the bank on Thursday October 25th, £90 million left on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th saw £200 million withdraw from online accounts.

Mr Pym appeared alongside Rod Kent, the former B&B chairman who stepped down last week.

He admitted reading BBC business editor Robert Peston's blog signalled the end of the bank.

"It was a difficult position, something had to happen," said Mr Kent.

Mr Pym also attacked the media for its role, stating all attention turned to "poor little Bradford & Bingley… the last mortgage bank standing".

"We knew things were bad when we saw Robert Peston's blog," he explained.

"On Saturday we were on front page of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, and customers are very aware when financial stories hit the front page and act."

Mr Kent added: "The FSA phoned us and said – we have something to tell you."

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