OBIE chief resigns following bullying investigation

OBIE chief resigns following bullying investigation

The chair of the UK's Open Banking Implementation Entity has quit after an independent investigation found that leadership failures at the OBIE "allowed a culture of bullying and intimidation".

Imran Gulamhuseinwala has been replaced as the OBIE's implementation trustee by Charlotte Crosswell, who recently joined the organisation.

Following an order by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the OBIE was set up in 2017 by the UK's nine biggest banks to implement the open banking regime.

However, following a complaint setting out a host of allegations, last year the CMA demanded an independent investigation which dove into five themes: corporate governance; late delivery of accounts; management of conflicts; procurement and value for money; and human resource issues.

The investigation found that "inaction and failures by the leadership of the OBIE allowed a culture of bullying and intimidation to prevail".

A number of people interviewed for the investigation described a "toxic" culture at the OBIE, where sexist comments were "tolerated" and bullying "may have been racially motivated".

There was also a failure to properly to manage conflicts of interest, although there is no evidence that this was exploited for private gain. Furthermore, Gulamhuseinwala did not ensure that the OBIE was properly managed in accordance with the Retail Banking Market Investigation Order 2017. The investigation also found that a lack of appropriate corporate governance had contributed directly to what happened at the OBIE.

In addition to replacing Gulamhuseinwala with Crosswell, the CMA says that new non-executive directors will be appointed to provide oversight and that a review will be undertaken to learn lessons.

CMA Chair Jonathan Scott says: "I would like to thank Alison White for her report. The investigation has identified significant failings that require a swift and substantial response."

In a statement on its site about the leadership change, the OBIE does not mention the investigation, saying that "now is a natural time for Imran Gulamhuseinwala to hand over the reins".

Says Gulamhuseinwala himself: "As the Implementation Trustee, my remit was to deliver on the OBIE’s Roadmap, and lay the foundations for a world leading open banking ecosystem. It’s a great source of pride that during my tenure the OBIE team have accomplished that."

Read the investigation

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