A new CEO has been appointed at the British Business Bank.

Louis Taylor will take up the permanent role at the head of the UK’s economic development bank, which is owned by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, from 1st October.

It follows Catherine Lewis La Torre’s decision to not apply for the permanent role following reports that up to £5 billion of fraudulently claimed COVID Bounce Back Loans may be written off by the government.

In January Treasury minister Lord Agnew resigned over what he described as a ‘lamentable’ record on tackling COVID business loan fraud within government, asking whether the BBB – which delivered the Bounce Back Loan Scheme on behalf of the government and was closely involved in its design – was doing enough to hold major banks to account in order to protect taxpayers’ money.

The government guaranteed 100% of the loans delivered to businesses by the high street banks during the pandemic, which totalled £47.4bn.

Lewis La Torre has served as interim boss since September 2020, succeeding Keith Morgan, who was CEO for six years from launch.

Her replacement Taylor is currently CEO of UK Export Finance. He joined the government’s export credit agency in 2015 and helped it provide its highest level of support for UK exporters in 30 years and end its financial support for overseas fossil fuel projects.

Before joining UK Export Finance, Louis Taylor had a career in banking and corporate finance, most recently with Standard Chartered Bank where he held positions as COO for group treasury and also as CEO, Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia. 

His early career included eight years in investment banking for JP Morgan and seven years running strategy and acquisitions for Cookson Group plc and Invensys.

“I am delighted that he has agreed to take on the role of CEO and look forward to working with him as we support the UK’s economic recovery through the bank’s debt and equity programmes, launch the next generation of regional funds, and also continue to address fraud and financial crime in relation to the COVID-19 loan schemes,” said BBB chair Lord Smith of Kelvin.

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Lewis La Torre will remain with the bank in an as-yet-undefined role.

“I want to thank Catherine for the commitment and dedication she has given to the role of Interim CEO,” added Lord Smith. “She has led the British Business Bank through a period of unprecedented growth and public scrutiny over the past two years.

“I am working closely with Catherine to define her future role and am delighted that she intends to stay with the bank.”