A formerRoyal Bank of Scotland executive who misled Parliament during an inquiry into how the lender wrecked small businesses now holds a top job at Santander – looking after small businesses.
Chris Sullivan was accused of being ‘wilfully obtuse’ when giving evidence to MPs about the notorious Global Restructuring Group (GRG) at RBS that critics claimed drove struggling firms to the wall.
He was also in a senior position when the bank was found guilty of mis-selling specialist insurance, known as interest rate swaps, to thousands of small businesses.
In charge: Chris Sullivan was accused of being ‘wilfully obtuse’ when giving evidence to MPs
The 60-year-old father of seven is head of corporate and commercial banking at Santander with responsibility for small and medium sized businesses known as SMEs.
Sullivan answers to Nathan Bostock, another former RBS banker who is chief executive of Santander in the UK and was last week named in Parliament as one of those responsible for the scandal at GRG. Santander was last night under mounting pressure over its links to GRG.
Labour MP John Mann, a member of the Treasury Select Committee, said: ‘Yet again the revolving doors at the top of the finance sector expose how bad behaviour is not punished.
‘Santander has serious questions to answer over how Nathan Bostock and Chris Sullivan can merit consumers’ confidence in their organisation.’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: ‘Santander is trying to make a big push into business banking. I regard that, in general, as a good thing. We need business lending. But the fact that these two guys have form does make me wary.’
Sullivan spent 40 years at RBS, starting out as a bank clerk before rising through the ranks to serve as chief executive of the corporate banking division between 2009 and 2013 and deputy chief executive of the entire group from 2013 to 2014. As senior figures at RBS, Bostock and Sullivan were part of the management team that oversaw GRG.
Critics claim the division deliberately destroyed struggling companies and seized their assets – costing scores of business owners their jobs, homes and marriages.
Last week it emerged that a memo was sent to GRG staff in 2009 urging them to let customers ‘hang themselves’ in an effort to squeeze out every last penny of profit during the financial crisis.
Giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee in June 2014, Sullivan and GRG boss Derek Sach insisted the unit was not run as a profit centre, denying the claim before MPs 27 times. But weeks later Sullivan was forced to admit that this was how GRG was run, prompting an angry response from then chairman Tory MP Andrew Tyrie, who accused RBS of being ‘wilfully obtuse with the committee’.
In a later report, the committee said the evidence supplied by Sullivan and Sach was ‘incorrect and therefore misleading’.
After leaving RBS at the end of 2014, Sullivan worked for London-based management consultancy Elixirr Partners for eight months before joining Bostock at Santander.
Sach, 69, is an adviser at private equity firm CVC.
Santander and RBS declined to comment last night.
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