Former bosses at British bank HBOS were slammed on Friday for a "colossal failure" of management, pursuing a high-risk strategy that sparked its downfall at the height of the global financial crisis.
The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards attacked the state-rescued group's ex-chairman Lord Dennis Stevenson and previous chief executives James Crosby and Andy Hornby in a hard-hitting review of the bank's collapse.
The bankers made "toxic" misjudgements at HBOS and should be barred from working in the financial sector ever again, according to the Commission that is mostly composed of lawmakers.
"Poor asset quality was the direct result of the company's strategy, which pursued asset growth in higher risk areas," the report said.
"This asset growth was compounded by a risky funding strategy. The combination of higher risk assets and risky funding represents a fundamentally flawed business model and a colossal failure of senior management and of the board."It added: "Their misjudgements were toxic for HBOS. The problems of solvency were a direct consequence of the strategy set by the board and the failure of controls on the practices that were fostered by its commitment to an asset-led, high-risk approach to growth."
The Commission added that the old HBOS bosses had failed to admit their mistakes and called for them to apologise.
"We are extremely disappointed by the attempts of the most senior leaders of HBOS at the time to attribute the scale of the consequent losses principally, or in significant measure, to the temporary closure of wholesale markets," the statement said.
"No bank is likely to be immune from the effects of an economic downturn, but the scale of HBOS's credit losses was markedly worse than that of any of its major peers," it added.
So far, ex-director Peter Cummings is the only HBOS boss to be penalised. In September, the old Financial Services Authority watchdog fined Cummings £500,000 and banned him for life from working in the financial sector.
The report concluded: "The primary responsibility for the downfall of HBOS should rest with Sir James Crosby, architect of the strategy that set the course for disaster, with Andy Hornby, who proved unable or unwilling to change course, and Lord Stevenson, who presided over the bank's board from its birth to its death."Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) was saddled with high-risk investments in the property sector and was rescued by Lloyds TSB in a 2008 takeover that was brokered by the then-Labour government.
After the ill-fated takeover, Lloyds Banking Group subsequently received a huge bailout from the state and remains 39-percent owned by the taxpayer.
The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was established by British finance minister George Osborne last year to examine banking standards and culture in the wake of the notorious Libor rate-rigging scandal.
The Commission also turned its fire on the FSA, which was scrapped on April 1 in a regulatory overhaul that was prompted by the global financial crisis.
"The HBOS story is one of catastrophic failures of management, governance and regulatory oversight," added Commission chairman and Conservative lawmaker Andrew Tyrie.
The FSA was replaced earlier this month with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which is part of the Bank of England and regulates lenders.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) was also created to oversee consumer protection issues.