Lord Green was credited with leading the “reform and rejuvenation” of UK Trade & Industry by David Cameron, who announced the unexpected switch of his Trade Ministers on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister said that former HSBC boss Lord Green had done a “superb job” re-focusing Government efforts on export, pushing forward trade agreements, including the planned US-EU trade deal, and had secured “vital investments”, including the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station.
Lord Green, 65, who will retire from the Government in December, said his two-and-a-half-year stint as Trade Minister was “one of the most rewarding roles” of his career, even though it was not without difficulties.
A year ago, he was accused of having “serious questions to answer” after a US Senate Committee found that HSBC had allowed money laundering by rogue states and terror groups. Lord Green expressed his “regret” for the failures at HSBC as the bank apologised for having “sometimes failed to meet the standards regulators and customer expect”.
Mr Cameron had to publicly back his minister, insisting he had “every confidence” in Lord Green. But Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, used the HSBC revelations to demand a judge-led inquiry into British banking culture. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was launched instead, specifically to respond to the advancing crisis over Libor rigging. On Wednesday, Mr Cameron backed the Commission’s call to jail reckless bankers.
Days before he took up his post as Trade Minister in January 2011, Lord Green hit the headlines for expressing personal “issues” with representing Britain’s £35bn defence industry. Lord Green, an ordained Anglican minister, is also the author of Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World. The Department of Business was forced to announce that Lord Green had agreed to represent the Defence & Security Organisation (DSO), along with all British industries.