WITH HBOS announcing a revised figure of £10 billion pre-tax loss figure, even after supposedly being “bailed-out” by the UK taxpayer some three months ago, the scale of the losses need to be “sanity checked” to comprehend them. Barclays Bank announced an expected pre-tax PROFIT of £6 billion for 2008. One would expect an organisation the size of HBOS to be at least twice that of Barclays. So, have HBOS actually lost the profit they SHOULD have made PLUS an additional £10 billion, i.e. over £20 billion in just ONE year? Nick Leeson brought down Barings bank with a loss of “only” £827 MILLION and was severely dealt with and sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison. It seems that now all the HBOS CEO needs to say is “sorry” to a select committee and all is forgiven – then another giant dollop of taxpayers cash is given to him without onerous strings attached, nice work if you can get it! One (or all) of the following must apply to HBOS:- 1)They have a string of their own “Nick Leesons” who have acted outside their remit due to inadequate control procedure and greed for lucrative commission payments. 2)HBOS know that the weak UK government will cover any losses they declare, so this is seen as an opportunity to get cash onto the balance sheet at the taxpayers expense. 3)HBOS has been trading whilst insolvent – a criminal offence that holds people accountable. I would not be surprised to see a senior Labour politician appointed to the HBOS board when he is booted out of office in the near future and subsequently retires “to spend more time with his family in Scotland” – or am I just an old cynic?

Mark Masters, Andratx