The Co-operative Group said that its chairman had resigned after the former head of its banking arm – which prides itself on ethical investments – was filmed allegedly planning to buy illegal drugs

Co-op says chairman quits over bank scandal

The chairman of Britain's Co-operative Group, Len Wardle, is seen in this undated photograph received via the The Co-operative Banking Group, in London

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 – 20:16


LONDON – The Co-operative Group said on Tuesday that its chairman had resigned after the former head of its banking arm – which prides itself on ethical investments – was filmed allegedly planning to buy illegal drugs. Len Wardle, chairman of the supermarket-to-banking business, said he was standing aside after former Co-operative Bank chairman Paul Flowers – a 63-year-old church minister – was linked to allegations involving crack cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine.“The recent revelations about the behaviour of Paul Flowers, the former chair of The Co-operative Bank, have raised a number of serious questions for both the bank and the group,” Wardle said in a statement.

“I led the board that appointed Paul Flowers to lead the bank board and under those circumstances I feel that it is right that I step down now, ahead of my planned retirement in May next year.”

He will be replaced by Ursula Lidbetter, currently deputy chair of The Co-operative Group.

The Co-operative Bank has been plunged deeper into crisis by the allegations surrounding Flowers.

The Mail on Sunday newspaper alleged that Flowers, a Methodist minister, was caught on camera discussing the purchase of the identified drugs.

The paper said the event occurred just days after Flowers had bungled an appearance before lawmakers on parliament’s Treasury Select Committee to explain the lender’s dire finances.

Following the revelations published on Sunday, Flowers apologised in a statement issued through the Methodist Church in Britain, blaming pressures in his personal life.

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Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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