The FCA has banned former chair of Co-operative Bank PLC Paul Flowers from the financial services industry.
The regulator found that the conduct of Mr Flowers – chair of the bank between 15th April 2010 and 5th June 2013 – demonstrated a lack of fitness and propriety required to work in financial services.
The FCA found that Mr Flowers had demonstrated an unwillingness to comply not only with the FCA’s requirements and standards, but also with other legal, regulatory and professional requirements.
The FCA felt Mr Flowers’ disregard for the standards he was expected to meet demonstrated a lack of integrity and that any future involvement by Mr Flowers in financial services risked undermining consumer and market confidence.
The regulator found that while he was chair of Co-op Bank, Mr Flowers had used his work mobile phone to make a number of inappropriate calls to a premium rate chatline, breaching the Co-op group and bank’s policies.
It was also found that Mr Flowers used his work email account to send and receive sexually explicit and otherwise inappropriate messages and to discuss illegal drugs, again breaching Co-op policies.
In addition, after stepping down as chair, Mr Flowers was convicted for the possession of illegal drugs.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said the role of chair was pivotal in setting expectations of a company’s culture, values and behaviours.
“Mr Flowers failed in his duty to lead by example and to meet the high standards of integrity and probity demanded by the role.
“These high standards are what the financial services industry and the wider community rightly expect of its senior individuals.
“Where a chair, or other senior individual, fails to discharge these standards the FCA will hold them to account.”
During the investigation, the FCA liaised with and received support from the PRA.
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