The owners of small companies who lost their livelihoods in the scandal at HBOS in Reading have asked Thames Valley Police to investigate claims that the scam was covered up.
Six bankers and businessmen were convicted of fraud last February but questions surround the extent to which their crime was known by senior colleagues at HBOS and Lloyds Banking Group, which took it over in 2008.
In the £245 million scam two HBOS bankers at the Reading branch conspired with consultants to strip the assets of companies and use them to steal millions via fraudulent loans.
Last year it emerged that a former senior banker at Lloyds wrote a report saying that in 2008 HBOS executives appeared to know about the fraud, yet allegedly did not want to disclose details about it. Weeks later it was announced that Lloyds Banking Group had appointed Dame Linda Dobbs, a retired high court judge, to lead an internal a review into whether there had been a cover-up by Lloyds.
Five victims have written to Francis Habgood, chief constable of Thames Valley, demanding a police inquiry. They are backed by the all-party parliamentary group on fair business banking. The five are also writing to Amber Rudd, the home secretary, and John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, demanding that they allocate money for a police investigation.
Anthony Stansfeld, police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, said that it seemed “extraordinary that the bank could deny a fraud had taken place”. He added: “It resulted in a great number of companies being ruined and the lives and livelihoods of their owners and those that worked with them being destroyed.”
Kevin Hollinrake, joint chairman of the parliamentary group, said: “If there is clear evidence that senior executives knew about fraudulent behaviour and did nothing then this should be investigated thoroughly.”
Last year Lloyds agreed to review all cases and pay compensation, but many of the victims have yet to receive any compensation from the bank.
A spokesman for HBOS said: “We deeply regret and apologise for the affect the criminality relating to HBOS Impaired Assets Office in Reading has had on customers and we continue to make good progress in the customer review in settling compensation.
“More than three quarters of all customers in the review have received offers; and more than three quarters of these customers have accepted.”