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December 29, 2012 12:01 am
The knighting of Hector Sants – a banker-turned regulator-turned banker again – marks a bold departure from the policy of recent years of not ennobling anyone with a connection to the financial crisis.
In the case of Fred Goodwin, the government went a step further and early this year stripped the former chief executive of the now part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland of his gong.
Sir Hector would claim to be have been part of the solution to the crisis, rather than part of the problem. Though he held a senior role at the Financial Services Authority in the run-up to the 2007 collapse of Northern Rock, his responsibility was for investment banking rather than high-street lenders.
After taking over as FSA chief executive in mid-2007, he set about changing the culture away from the discredited “light-touch” approach, promising that banks should be “afraid” of their regulator.
Never universally popular, in part because of his involvement with the earlier regime, Sir Hector is nonetheless widely regarded as having shown integrity and loyalty in his job.
Before the 2010 general election, he was vocal in his opposition to the Conservatives’ plans for the FSA – so much so that he resigned in the aftermath of the election. However, within days of his due departure date he was persuaded by George Osborne, the chancellor, to stay on – a decision that many observers believe earned him the knighthood.
After resigning for a second time six months ago, Sir Hector is now set to join Barclays as head of compliance and government relations, picking up the banking career that he gave up when he left Credit Suisse for the FSA in 2004.
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