The Co-op Bank escaped a £120 million fine because it was too broke

The Bank of England is furious with the Co-operative Bank, which neared collapse two years ago as it revealed a £1.5 billion black hole in its balance sheet.

The BOE’s Prudential Regulation Unit, the banking watchdog, wanted to hand Co-op a huge £120 million fine for getting into the mess, but the bank is too weak to pay it. This is what they said in the statement today:

The PRA considers these breaches by Co-op Bank to be sufficiently serious to warrant a substantial financial penalty. However the PRA has concluded that imposing a financial penalty on Co-op Bank would not advance the PRA’s statutory objective to promote the safety and soundness of the firms it regulates

The bank had “serious failings” in its risk control system between 2009 and 2013, according to the PRA, and was unable to “consider the level of risk it assumed and therefore did not have the capability to manage that risk.”

The Co-op is still recovering from its losses and the BOE can’t even promise to fine the Co-op later on because it would weigh on the bank’s balance sheet as a provision for future fines.

The PRA, along with a team at the Financial Conduct Authority, is still pursuing key individuals wrapped up in the bank’s downfall.

The Co-op’s management was a colourful bunch. Former chairman Paul Flowers, a Methodist minister, was nicknamed the “Crystal Methodist” after it emerged he had try to buy methamphetimine and ketamine in Manchester.

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