Britain looks into banning ex-HBOS chiefs as directors

Britain's Business Secretary Vince Cable said he has ordered an investigation to see whether three former bosses of collapsed British bank HBOS could be banned for life from being company directors, The Sunday Times reported.

Cable said he asked his officials to investigate whether there were grounds to launch formal proceedings against them.

The influential Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards attacked the state-rescued group's ex-chairman Lord Dennis Stevenson and previous chief executives Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby in a key review published Friday.

It said they should be banned by regulators from working in the financial sector ever again, according to their report into the lender's collapse.

The panel of lawmakers blamed the men's "toxic misjudgements" for a collapse which sparked a vast £20.5-billion ($31-billion, 24-billion-euro) taxpayer bailout at the height of the financial crisis.

Cable said he has asked his officials to look into the directors' conduct while at HBOS to see if a formal investigation under the Company Directors Disqualification Act should be carried out.

That would be the "first step" in a process that could lead to them being banned as company directors for life.

"There are things I am able to do. It's quite a legalistic process. I can ask (officials) to look at whether the companies investigations branch take action.

"We do have this power that I have begun to initiate," he said.

Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) was saddled with high-risk investments in the property sector and was rescued by Lloyds TSB in a 2008 takeover that was brokered by the then-Labour government.

After the ill-fated deal, Lloyds Banking Group subsequently received a huge bailout from the state and remains 39-percent owned by the taxpayer.