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Britain's crime agency to expand probe into HBOS fraud allegations


Reuters LONDON
By Lawrence White
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's National Crime Agency is expanding a review into fraud allegations at HBOS, part of Lloyds Banking Group, that have already led to the jailing of six people in a scam that pushed business owners to hire a costly turnaround consultancy.
The NCA said on Monday it was following up a request from Thames Valley police, who conducted the investigation that led to the original convictions, with a view to a wider investigation into allegations of fraud and money laundering.
A spokesman for Lloyds said the bank welcomed the fresh review and would cooperate fully.
The NCA said its review would look into allegations falling outside the scope of the original investigation, and that it should take six months.
The NCA also said the allegations included asset stripping, through the use of corrupt consultants as well as allegations of fraud and money laundering. The sums of money involved could be significant, running to many millions, it said.
The Agency said the review would determine whether a full criminal investigation was needed.
The initial investigation and prosecution was completed in January 2017 and related to a scam conducted between 2003 to 2008. HBOS became part of Lloyds during the financial crisis.
Lloyds has unveiled a 100 million pound compensation scheme for victims of the fraud, who had complained the bank reacted too slowly to their complaints.
The six jailed for their involvement in the original scam were sent to prison for a total of 47-and-a-half years, among the toughest sentences handed out for high-profile, white collar fraud in Britain in recent years.
The bankers had asked struggling business owners to employ a turnaround consultancy as a condition for getting a loan and they were then obliged to pay the consultancy high fees for services and, in some cases, hand over ownership.
(Reporting By Lawrence White, editing by Silvia Aloisi and Jane Merriman)

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First Published: Apr 30 2018 | 10:38 PM IST

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