Ex Co-op bank chairman Paul Flowers charged with drug possession

by Reuters
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 10:08 GMT

LONDON, April 16 (Reuters) - Former Co-op Bank chairman Paul Flowers was charged on Wednesday with possessing illegal drugs, with the former Methodist minister to appear before magistrates next month, police said.

West Yorkshire police said Flowers, 63, of Bradford in northern England, was charged with three offences of possessing drugs and was bailed to appear in court on May 7.

"I have concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to charge Paul Flowers with possession of Class A and Class C drugs relating to an incident on 9 November 2013," Clare Stevens, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement.

Flowers was arrested last November after an investigation triggered by allegations in a newspaper.

The scandal raised questions over his appointment to the bank when he had no banking qualifications and he was suspended indefinitely from the Methodist church pending proceedings.

Flowers left the bank - favoured by customers for its perceived ethical stance - last June, but subsequent events including its rescue by bondholders became one of Britain's biggest financial scandals of the past year.

His arrest ramped up pressure on the 141-year-old lender, which has fallen under the control of bondholders including U.S. hedge funds following a 1.5 billion pound ($2.5 billion) rescue.

The future of the 170-year-old Co-operative Group has been thrown into doubt in recent months by the departure of the two senior executives who were drafted in to turn the group around.

The Co-op group, owned by its 7.2 million members and which retains a minority stake in the scandal-hit Co-op Bank, is expected to post a loss of around 2 billion pounds when it reports its full-year results on Thursday.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Stephen Addison)

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