Hector Sants, the former Financial Services Authority chief executive criticised over regulatory failures during the financial crisis, has been knighted in the New Year Honours list.
Mr Sants’ surprise award for “services to financial services and regulation” drew immediate brickbats from politicians and bankers, quick to highlight the FSA’s rocky record during his tenure.
Paul Moore, the ex-HBOS head of risk who blew the whistle on the lack of controls at the bank, said: “This is extraordinary. Hector Sants was part of a system that clearly failed. For most people that doesn’t mean you are rewarded with a knighthood.”
Mr Sants became FSA chief executive in July 2007 after three years heading its wholesale markets wing though he maintained that Northern Rock, which collapsed two months later due to a wholesale funding crisis, fell under the FSA’s retail arm.
He struggled to deflect the blame, however, for his oversight of RBS (LSE: RBS.L - news) , taking his fair share of criticism in the report the FSA finally produced on that bank’s failure. At a subsequent Treasury Select Committee hearing in January 2012, Mr Sants rejected accusations that the FSA had been “asleep at the wheel”, while his efforts to absolve himself from some of the blame drew the remark from committee chairman Andrew Tyrie: “It does sound as though you are dumping on your predecessor.”
Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said: “He was a very solid food manufacturing analyst at Phillips & Drew, but does he really need a knighthood now on top of his £3m package at Barclays?”
Mr Sants said: “This award is a testament to the hard work of everyone at the FSA during the crisis, their willingness to learn lessons and to bring about the changes necessary.”
Alongside Mr Sants, there was also a knighthood for Hossein Yassaie, the Iranian boss of Imagination Technologies (Other OTC: IGNMF - news) , designer of chips for Apple’s iPhone. “I couldn’t have had a better Christmas present,” he said. “I came to this country and made it my home, and to have my achievements recognised by the country I have adopted is amazing.”
David Wootton, the former Lord Mayor of London, and Peter Hendy, the commissioner of Transport for London, are also knighted, while the inventor of Air Miles and Nectar loyalty cards, Sir Keith Mills, receives a Knight Grand Cross (GBE) for his role as deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton, who is set to become Britain’s infrastructure tsar, becomes a Knight Commander. Kenneth Grange, designer of the InterCity 125 train, Britain's first parking meter and the rural post box, is also knighted.
Sir Alan Budd, a founding member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, who came out of retirement to lead the Office for Budget Responsibility, also gets a GBE. Another MPC founding member, DeAnne Julius, takes a DCMG.
Business CBEs include Tim Breedon, ex-Legal & General (LSE: LGEN.L - news) chief; Martha Lane Fox, the digital champion who co-founded lastminute.com; Tony Pidgley, founder of housebuilder Berkeley; Philip Cox, the International Power (Other OTC: IPWG - news) boss; Helen Deeble, CEO of P&O Ferries; and Peter Marks, the Co-op’s former chief, who recently retired having led the group to the purchase of 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY.L - news) .