Revealed: Osborne’s 50 meetings with bank bosses in just two years

March 26, 2013 6:19 pm 1 comment Views: 322

The cosy relationship between ministers and the bosses of Britain’s scandal-hit banks has been laid bare for the first time.

Government records reveal the Chancellor met them at 11 Downing Street almost 50 times in the two years after the Coalition came to power.

This includes 44 one-on-one discussions and four meetings between the Chancellor and a small group of bank executives.

By contrast, the man responsible for policing the banks  – Financial Services Authority chairman Lord Turner – enjoyed solo meetings with the Chancellor on just four occasions in the same period.

And between 2010 and 2012, the Chancellor received just eight  visits from British manufacturers, including aerospace giant BAE Systems and Dyson.

But the revolving door of senior bankers at No 11 underlines concerns that they continue to wield huge influence over the Government.

Earlier this month, Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King laid out his concerns that the bosses of top banks were still having too much personal access to senior ministers.

He said banks had ‘lobbied very successfully’, adding that he was ‘surprised’ by the level of access enjoyed by bosses to top politicians.

Describing the situation before the financial crisis kicked off in 2007, he said: ‘The climate has clearly changed since then, but the access has probably not.’

Last night Andrew Tyrie, MP,  chairman of the banking commission, said: ‘Banks are highly adept at lobbying governments – it has ever been thus.’

Former Barclays boss Bob Diamond was among those who became a regular fixture at the Treasury until he quit in disgrace after the bank was fined £290million for rigging crucial interest rates last summer.

Barclays features in the Chancellor’s visitor log book for ‘general  discussions’ more than any other bank, with 12 visits between May 2010 and September 2012. 

Barclays also appears to have been the bank of choice for the Prime Minister, with another four meetings at No 10 during the period, discussing a broad sweep of issues including trade, investment, ‘security issues,’ and football TV coverage. The bank sponsors the Premiership.

HSBC, fined £1.2billion last year for money laundering for Mexican drug gangs in the US and Mexico, paid ten visits to Downing Street –including three with David Cameron.

Concerned: Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, said he was surprised at the level of face-to-face access bank bosses had with the Chancellor and other senior politiciansConcerned: Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, said he was surprised at the level of face-to-face access bank bosses had with the Chancellor and other senior politicians

Finance pals: George Osborne,pictured in 2011 with Bob Diamond, disgraced former chief executive officer of Barclays, who was a regular guest at the TreasuryFinance pals: George Osborne, pictured in 2011 with Bob Diamond, disgraced former chief executive officer of Barclays, who was a regular guest at the Treasury

Last night, Labour’s treasury spokesman Chris Leslie said: ‘I don’t know to this day why the Government resisted a proper judicial review of the banking industry.

‘There are powerful voices that seem to be having a very effective impact on the Treasury. They might be lobbying with strength, but the arguments they are dredging up are getting thinner and thinner.’

One former Treasury insider said the ‘endemic problem’ is a legacy of the New Labour government which came to power in 1997 determined to woo the City.

‘In my day the relationship between the Treasury and the banks was completely different  –  the idea that they could ring up and come around to see Lawson or Major (both former chancellors) was utterly absurd. They would have been given short shrift from  Margaret (Thatcher) too.’

Last night a Treasury spokesman said: ‘Treasury ministers regularly meet representatives from a wide range of businesses, including those in the financial sector.’

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  • Quintus Maximus

    No surprises here, this has been going on for ages, how do you think someone with a 2md class degree, in history !!! can be making so much money, and be in the position he is. corruption is so widespread its blatant nowadays. wonder who is making all the money from backhanders from the HS2 white elephant. Lobbying should be OUTLAWED