January 3, 2019 / 10:05 AM / 13 days ago

Britain names two women to top Bank of England panel

LONDON (Reuters) - The Treasury named Colette Bowe, a former senior civil servant and regulator, and Jayne-Anne Gadhia, until recently the head of a start-up bank, to serve on the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee.

FILE PHOTO: Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chief Executive of Virgin Money speaks at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) annual conference in London, Britain November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Bowe, currently chair of the Banking Standards Board (BSB) industry group, will replace Richard Sharp on the FPC, which monitors risks in Britain’s financial system, from the end of March.

Gadhia, who was chief executive of lender Virgin Money for more than 10 years until it was taken over by CYBG (CYBGC.L), will replace Martin Taylor at the end of June.

“As chair of the Banking Standards Board, Colette has led the way in developing and embedding better standards of conduct across the banking sector,” BoE Governor Mark Carney said in a statement on Thursday.

“Jayne-Anne brings deep and relevant experience in retail banking and her successful business career.”

POLITICAL CONTROVERSY

Since the 1990s Bowe has had several jobs at the top of consumer regulation, notably heading the Personal Investment Authority and Britain’s telecoms watchdog, Ofcom.

As a senior civil servant in the 1980s, Bowe was drawn into a political scandal as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and her ministers secretly competed to swing the sale of British helicopter maker Westland to either U.S. or European suitors.

Under orders from the trade and industry minister Leon Brittan and with Thatcher’s blessing, Bowe leaked a confidential legal memo to undermine defence minister Michael Heseltine’s bid to secure a European buyer for Westland.

Bowe kept silent about who ordered the leak for nearly 30 years, citing the principle of confidentiality between ministers and civil servants. She once said she had “nothing but contempt for people who blab”.

As chair of the BSB, which was set up in a bid to improve conduct standards at banks after a string of scandals, she told MPs last year that bankers were still too afraid to admit mistakes to colleagues.

GENDER BALANCE

MPs have previously criticised the finance ministry for appointing too few women to the Bank’s three main monetary, financial and regulation policy committees.

Bowe and Gadhia will bring the total number of female policymakers at the Bank to six, compared with 16 men.

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The finance ministry said it interviewed five women and three men for the posts.

Gadhia has long been an advocate for greater representation of women in senior roles in Britain’s financial services, where the four big banks all have male chief executives and chairmen.

Gadhia and Bowe will at some point appear before MPs from parliament’s Treasury Committee.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; editing by Larry King and Keith Weir

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