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Shamed Derek Mackay allowed a controversial banker to be appointed head of a new £2billion government fund without ethics watchdog oversight.
The former Finance Minister personally approved an “unregulated” selection process that installed Willie Watt as chair of the Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB), the Sunday Mail can reveal.
Watt has been appointed despite the firm he previously led being fined £8.6million in the UK and America over a conflict of interests scandal.
Benny Higgins meanwhile – the Government’s chief adviser to help set up the taxpayer-funded bank – was eviscerated in 2015 for spending £18,000 on taxis in eight months while CEO of Tesco Bank at a time the supermarket was firing frontline staff.
We have learned Scotland’s dedicated public appointment ombudsman had to stand aside from overseeing Watt’s appointment after Mackay – who was forced to resign after sending hundreds of inappropriate texts to a schoolboy – allowed Higgins to head an unregulated interview panel.
Labour MSP Neil Findlay has demanded an inquiry into the lack of public or parliamentary scrutiny.
He said: “The Scottish National Investment Bank has to start its life with the full confidence of the Scottish people. It shouldn’t repeat the discredited practices of the private banks that took our economy to the brink. I fear we’re seeing it do exactly that.
“The parliament’s committee system needs to scrutinise this organisation that will be responsible for hundreds of millions of public money.”
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