Andrew Bailey ‘fell asleep’ during meeting over pension scandal Business

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has come under fire for falling asleep during a meeting over a massive pension mis-selling scandal while working for the city regulator.

Mr Bailey’s ‘heads down and eyes closed’ during a hearing into the British Steel pension scheme scandal which cost some steelworkers up to £489,000, according to those who attended the meeting 2019 with the former boss of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Al Rush, an adviser who represents former members of the British Steel pension scheme, told the Financial Times: “Bailey kept falling asleep. We were trying to get a serious message across.”

Philippa Hann, a lawyer at Clarke Willmott who also attended the meeting, told the newspaper that “we were very convinced that the FCA was not doing enough for the steelworkers. We were delighted to speak to Bailey, but there are had a number of times when his head fell off and he had his eyes closed and he seemed to be sleeping. It was very strange.”

Dame Meg Hillier, chair of the public accounts committee, accused the FCA of “falling asleep at the wheel” while handling the case.

The 2017 scandal saw thousands of workers fall victim to companies preying on their generous end-of-career wage pensions, encouraging them to move on to new bribes and levying steep fees in the process. Nearly 8,000 members chose to transfer their savings on “bad advice”, the FCA said.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said in an official report on Friday that the regulated market for financial advice had failed to protect them, with 47% of advice “deemed unsuitable”.

He said the total loss for confirmed claims is £55.3million but the total compensation awarded so far is £37.3million, resulting in a shortfall of £18 million.

More than 100,000 members of British Steel’s pension scheme have had to choose what happens to their savings after corporate sponsor Tata Steel decided to sell the UK steel business in 2016 and offload its pension scheme into the under an agreement with the regulator. The NAO said on Friday that members had “limited time to make their decisions.”

The FCA declined to comment on the allegations about Mr Bailey.

A Bank spokesperson said: “Andrew has devoted an inordinate amount of time to BSPS, ordering a major investigation into the matter by the FCA. He totally and categorically rejects any suggestion that he has not taken the issues raised by those concerned”.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-18 15:56:53

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