A lawyer who advised ministers during the meltdown in Britain’s banking system in 2008 is a leading candidate to become the next chairman of the City regulator.
Sky News has learnt that Charles Randell, a former partner at the ‘Magic Circle’ law firm Slaughter & May, is in talks about succeeding John Griffith-Jones at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Sources said that Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, is expected to agree the appointment of the new FCA chairman within days, adding that an announcement could be made by the Treasury as early as Tuesday.
At least one other – unidentified – candidate is thought to have been in contention for the post as recently as this month, they said.
The new chair will also take the same role at the Payment Systems Regulator, and have responsibility for approving the budgets of related bodies including the Money Advice Service and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
If Mr Randell does get the nod for the posts, it would reunite him with Andrew Bailey, the FCA’s chief executive and former boss of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
Mr Randell sits on the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Committee (PRC), where his five-year term as a director is due to expire at the end of March.
The Treasury announced last summer that Mr Griffith-Jones would step down in the spring of 2018 – meaning that the timing of Mr Randell’s departure from the PRC would dovetail neatly with the vacancy at its sister regulator.
Image: John Griffith-Jones with the Queen in 2010 when he was chairman of KPMG
The outgoing chairman’s tenure has been marred by pockets of controversy, as well as criticism that his earlier career at KPMG, the accountancy firm, gave rise to unacceptable potential conflicts of interest amid probes into crises at banks audited by KPMG.
One City source said the Treasury had decided at the start of the recruitment process that it did not want Mr Griffith-Jones’ successor to be drawn from the ranks of the big four accountancy firms because of the conflicts issue.
Another regulator, the Financial Reporting Council, has only just published a report explaining why it did not take further action against KPMG over its auditing of HBOS.
Arguably Mr Griffith-Jones’ worst moment came in 2014, when the City regulator botched a briefing of a review of the life insurance sector, causing billions of pounds to be wiped off the value of listed insurers.
Mr Randell is regarded as possessing one of the City’s safest pairs of hands.
He was an omnipresent figure at the Treasury from the summer of 2007, advising ministers on their response to the run on Northern Rock, the collapse of Iceland’s biggest banks and the bailout of Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland.
During his stint at the PRA, he played an important role in evaluating the official report on the collapse of HBOS, which was published in 2015.
The former lawyer also sits on the board of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
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With Mr Bailey now firmly installed at the helm of the FCA, the Treasury will rely on the new leadership team to steer the watchdog through the relocation of its headquarters and the potentially choppy waters of Brexit.
The FCA and Mr Randell both declined to comment, while the Treasury could not be reached for comment.