The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today announced its decision that Paul Flowers – the disgraced former church minister dubbed the “Crystal Methodist” over his penchant for drugs – has failed to demonstrate the fitness and propriety required to work in financial services.
This means that any future involvement by him in the industry would risk undermining consumer and market confidence.
During an investigation into Flower’s activities while chairman of the bank, the regulator found that he had used his work mobile phone to make “a number of inappropriate telephone calls” to a premium rate chat line in breach of Co-op Group and Co-op Bank policies.
He also used his work email account to send and receive sexually explicit and otherwise inappropriate messages and to discuss illegal drugs, again contrary to company policy.
Following his resignation as the Co-op Bank’s chair in 2013, Flowers was exposed by the Mail on Sunday which obtained footage of him buying drugs. He later pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates Court to two counts of possessing Class A drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine and was fined £400 and ordered to pay £125 costs.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says that the role of chair is pivotal in setting expectations of a company’s culture, values and behaviours.
“Mr Flowers failed in his duty to lead by example and to meet the high standards of integrity and probity demanded by the role. These high standards are what the financial services industry and the wider community rightly expect of its senior individuals.
“Where a chair, or other senior individual, fails to discharge these standards, the FCA will hold them to account.”
In January last year, Flowers was dismissed as a minister of the Methodist Church after admitting a charge of “seriously impairing the mission, witness or integrity of the church”.