Ex-Co-Op Bank Chairman Charged With Cocaine Possession

Paul Flowers, the former chairman of Co-Operative Bank Plc, was charged with possession of cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine, almost a month after the lender said it would post a full-year loss of as much as 1.3 billion pounds ($2.2 billion).

Flowers, 63, is scheduled to appear at a criminal court in Leeds, England, on May 7 to face the charges, the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement today. Flowers, who was arrested in November as part of a drug investigation after he was filmed buying crack cocaine by a U.K. newspaper, was released on bail, West Yorkshire Police said in a statement.

“I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Paul Flowers with possession of Class A and Class C drugs relating to an incident on Nov. 9, 2013,” prosecutor Clare Stevens said in the statement.

Regulatory and government probes are also in the works after the Mail on Sunday newspaper reported Nov. 17 that Flowers bought crystal meth and crack cocaine. Flowers, a Methodist minister, was Co-Op Bank’s chairman from March 2010 until June of last year.

Co-Operative Group Ltd., the bank’s parent, ceded control of the lender to bondholders in October to help plug a 1.5 billion-pound capital shortfall. The bank said last month it will raise an additional 400 million pounds after discovering a capital shortfall tied to mounting legal and restructuring costs.

‘Stupid and Wrong’

After Flowers’ arrest and the parent company ceded control of the bank, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne ordered an independent inquiry. The investigation won’t start until it’s clear it won’t prejudice any probes by the U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority.

David Masters, a spokesman for the bank, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Flowers’ lawyer also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges.

Flowers apologized for his conduct in a statement after his arrest last year, saying there had been a death in the family and pressures related to the bank.

“At the lowest point in this terrible period, I did things that were stupid and wrong,” Flowers said in the November statement. “I am sorry for this, and I am seeking professional help, and apologize to all I have hurt or failed by my actions.”

Ketamine, also known as Special K, has pain-killing and stimulant properties and causes users to become detached from themselves, according to charity DrugScope.

A second defendant in the case, Gavin Woroniuk, was charged with four counts of offering to supply a controlled drug and one count of possessing criminal property, prosecutors said.

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