Ex-Bradford & Bingley Director Sixth Penalized From Bank Crisis

Chris Willford, the former finance director of nationalized lender Bradford & Bingley Plc, was fined 30,000 pounds ($49,000), becoming the sixth executive to face U.K. penalties over failings that led to bank rescues.

Willford didn’t tell the lender’s board that its fiscal position was weak as it prepared to raise money through a 2008 rights offering, the Financial Conduct Authority said in an e-mailed statement today. Willford withheld information he received three days before the offering that showed late mortgage payments and repossessions had risen while the bank’s net interest margin had fallen, indicating that it may fall short of profit forecasts.

“Willford failed to identify and investigate potentially material risks, or alert the board, at a crucial time for the firm,” Tracey McDermott, the FCA’s head of enforcement, said in the statement.

Willford, who fought with regulators to keep his identity secret for three years, is the sixth executive to be fined or banned over failures that helped trigger the financial crisis. The FCA and its predecessor have also penalized officials from HBOS Plc, Northern Rock Plc, and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

Bradford & Bingley was rescued by the British government in 2008 after credit markets froze in the wake of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s collapse. A lawyer for Willford, who was finance director from October 2005 until June 2009, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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