Anybody Bank With HBOS ?????

GREEDY HBOS bankers being bailed out with £11.5 BILLION from hard-pressed taxpayers are today exposed REVELLING on a boozy £330,000 junket and LAUGHING at customers facing repossession.

The News of the World caught 302 Halifax/Bank of Scotland mortgage staff and 68 guests lapping up the five-star freebie while cash-strapped families deal with disaster.

The heartless money men and women just downed champagne and GIGGLED as star TV comedian PATRICK KIELTY—who charges £20,000 a show—poked fun at their shameful excesses in the midst of Britain’s credit crisis, vowing: “Your secret is safe with me!”

Last night an HBOS whistleblower told the News of the World: “There was absolutely no expense spared. We had the best of everything—great food, expensive wine, you name it. It’s outrageous really, considering all the recent troubles at HBOS. We all had a good time though. We even got a day off work—AND got paid for it.”

Today we reveal the cost of this week’s jolly as HBOS, set to be taken over in a government-sanctioned multi- billion deal with LloydsTSB, ran up the gigantic bill including:

* OPULENT hotel rooms totalling £60,000.
* CHAMPAGNE reception at £4,000.
* LAVISH £200-a-head four-course meals with yet more booze.
* TRAVEL expenses costing £45,000.
* LUXURY £100 goodie bags for every guest and,
* PRIZES of £1,000 to reward the work of 16 mortgage brokers over a year that’s left most of Britain struggling.

The all-expenses-paid weekend trip— known as the Annual Star Gala—started on Friday morning as HBOS staff arrived in Edinburgh from all corners of its empire including Belfast, Leeds and Sheffield. At the same time their bosses, along with other banks’ bigwigs, were getting a dressing-down from Chancellor Alistair Darling over their failure to pass on Thursday’s Bank of England 1.5 per cent cut in interest rates.

By the time the party crowd were checking into the city’s top three hotels —The Balmoral, The Caledonian Hilton and The George—the men in suits had caved in to government demands.

Lucky HBOS staff who landed bookings at The Balmoral—where the rooms start at £215 per night and are favoured by celebrities such as George Clooney and Tom Hanks—were soon splashing about in the swimming pool.

Others took full advantage of the plush Finnish sauna, Turkish steam room and beauty treatments before their big night on the tiles.

It was a similar story at The Caledonian—a favoured haunt of Sean Connery and former PM Tony Blair. But some guests billeted at the four-star George—where rooms are £180 a night— felt hard done by. Our insider told us: “They were moaning and felt they were missing out. I wouldn’t mind, but some of them actually LIVE in the city and didn’t even need rooms really.”

At lunchtime the bankers enjoyed a feast of smoked salmon, foie gras pate and champagne. Goodie bags left in their rooms contained Moet & Chandon bubbly, leather-bound journals, chocolates and £10 Starbucks vouchers.

Then it was time for the main event—and on Friday evening they were all taken by coach to the Prestonfield Hotel for their gala dinner.

A lucky dozen guests were already there, booked into rooms costing £250 a night. But a News of the World team was there too for the opening reception as guests—men in tuxedos or kilts, women in cocktail dresses—enjoyed bottles of expensive champagne with fancy smoked salmon and quail egg canapés.

They then sat down for dinner. Tables seating 10 were decorated with orchids and napkins crafted into swans. And on each one waiters placed FOUR bottles of wine and TWELVE bottles of beer. Pumpkin soup was followed by roast chicken then profiteroles with chocolate sauce and cream. Our insider told us: “It was like a Roman feast— with enough booze to float a ship.

“They like to get you absolutely plastered at these events. On top of that they gave us drink vouchers so we could hammer the free bar!”

When Irish comic Kielty took the stage he tore into a string of ‘gags’ about the credit crunch and hard-up customers losing their homes. And the mortgage pushers roared with laughter.

As the disco took over, tipsy revellers staggered about splashing free drink on the dance floor—some kicking off their £300 Christian Louboutin high heels to dance around expensive handbags. The night ended at 1am when guests were ferried back to their hotels by coach. Our informant added: “Many people were the worse for wear by then. One woman couldn’t find her shoes, another had to be carried on the bus.

“The whole do obviously cost a fortune and the bank really did go to town. But some of us think it’s taking the mickey in the current climate, a slap in the face for taxpayers. HBOS couldn’t have chosen a worse time.”

Last night a spokeswoman for the bank insisted: “It was a modest affair, an event we hold every year to reward our star performers.” Pressed on the cost, she said: “It was a modest amount.”

In a later statement HBOS said the bash was booked and paid for last year, and they did not know the content of Kielty’s act in advance.

But a source close to Chancellor Alistair Darling said last night said: “He’ll be absolutely astonished they were spending so much money."

Similar threads

Latest Threads