UK Markets close in 4 hrs 16 mins

Revealed: Metro Bank billionaire used company account on private jet trips and Mayfair rent

Iain Withers
Metro Bank US founder Vernon Hill in 2010 - PA

Metro Bank is facing growing ­investor anger at the use of company money to fund the lavish lifestyles of its chairman and his wife after new details emerged about corporate expenses.

The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that Metro Bank’s flamboyant US founder, Vernon Hill, uses his £120,000-a-year company expense allowance to help pay for private jet trips for the couple from their home in Pennsylvania to London, and towards renting a flat on Park Lane in Mayfair. The revelations further blur the lines between the Hills’ marriage and professional life.

Metro Bank has paid £21 m since 2010 to InterArch, the architecture firm run by Mrs Hill. Last year alone the firm raked in nearly £4.6 m in fees from Metro Bank for services including architectural design services, branding, marketing and advertising.

Vernon Hill rents a flat in Mayfair where he stays on trips to London Credit: Martin Pope

In recent days, Metro Bank shareholder Royal London and investment adviser Glass Lewis have urged investors to vote against the re-election of Mr Hill as chairman at Metro Bank’s AGM on Tuesday, due to the potential conflicts of interest.

“We question the need for the company to engage in business relationships with its directors and their close relations,” Glass Lewis said in its report ahead of the AGM.

“We view such relationships as ­potentially creating conflicts.”

Mr Hill receives £10,000 a month ­towards his travel to and from the US and other living expenses, on top of his £376,667-a-year salary. He is the bank’s fifth largest shareholder with a stake worth approximately £110 m.

A source close to the bank said Mr Hill was sometimes joined on his private jet trips to London by his wife and other InterArch employees, including Rodney Dean, the architecture firm’s creative director and Mrs Hill’s “right-hand man”. InterArch employees also stayed at the Mayfair flat, the source claimed.

Mrs Hill and her InterArch ­colleagues make use of office space at Metro Bank’s headquarters at One Southampton Row in Holborn when in town. If more than 50pc of shareholders vote against Mr Hill’s reappointment, he would be forced to resign because the vote is binding.

Mr Hill has previously been voted off the board of a bank he founded – ­Commerce Bank in Philadelphia. He was ousted after regulators launched an investigation into his business dealings. No action was taken against him but he entered into a “cease and desist” order restricting his property transactions.

A Metro Bank spokesman said: “The chairman receives £10,000 a month to cover travel to and from the US and ­towards living expenses in the UK. How he travels and where he stays is down to his discretion. Who travels with him and stays with him is not a concern of Metro Bank.”

Metro Bank has defended its use of InterArch services, saying its audit committee “has strong review and benchmarking processes in place conducted by independent third parties to ensure the terms are favourable for the bank”. Mr Hill declined to comment.

At Metro Bank’s last AGM, Mr Hill was re-elected by 95pc of ­shareholders.