Open banking boss Imran Gulamhuseinwala resigns top job over 'bullying' findings

By Daniel Lanyon on Monday 4 October 2021

Digital Banking

Innovate Finance’s ex-CEO Charlotte Crosswell will take over the reins of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, the body responsible for bringing greater banking competition to the UK marketplace through open banking.

Open banking boss Imran Gulamhuseinwala resigns top job over 'bullying' findings
Image source: Imran Gulamhuseinwala/OBIE.

Imran Gulamhuseinwala, the long term boss of the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), has resigned amid an investigation into the organisation's culture which found a number of failings.

Gulamhuseinwala, who has run the organisation since 2017, is one of the leading figures globally in the open banking movement. The OBIE, however, had a limited mandated life span with expectations for an evolved body to oversee a wider remit expected to be set out in the coming months. 

The allegations came to light via a report from  Alison White, a director of the OBIE.

The Competition and Markets Authority, which has oversight of the organisation noted in a statement that there had been “failures by the leadership of the OBIE” that allowed “a culture of bullying and intimidation to prevail”. 

In addition, it said that it found there was a “failure properly to manage conflicts of interest at the organisation”. 

Although it did not find any evidence that this was exploited for private gain, nonetheless it added “there was an unacceptable risk that it might have done so.”

However, the report did state regarding Gulamhuseinwala that "contrary to the allegations of the Whistle-blower, we have found no evidence to suggest that [Gulamhuseinwala] holds a discriminatory attitude towards women, or that he treats women less favourably than men.

"Charlotte Crosswell, the long term former CEO of Innovative Finance has taken up the role of interim replacement Implementation Trustee and Chair, to lead the planned transition to the future arrangements for Open Banking.

CMA Chair Jonathan Scott said White’s investigation  identified “significant failings that require a swift and substantial response.” 

This centred on “serious allegations – including of bullying, harassment, discrimination and victimisation – were not investigated properly by the OBIE and it concluded that this reflected failures in both the management and the governance of the OBIE.” 

“This is simply unacceptable and we agree with Alison White that everyone involved needs to accept their share of the responsibility for this and act on the lessons learned,” Scott said.

A statement from the OBIE said: With the current Roadmap nearing completion, the OBIE is close to achieving its original mandate having implemented high performing open banking APIs and with the created a dynamic open banking ecosystem. As the organisation prepares to embark on the next phase of open banking, now is a natural time for Imran Gulamhuseinwala to hand over the reins to Charlotte Crosswell as Trustee. This will enable a smooth handover to a successor who can help deliver the CMA and the OBIE’s joint goal of taking open banking mainstream."

Charlotte Crosswell said: “Since joining the OBIE in my initial role as Transition Lead earlier this year I have already been impressed with the professionalism, dedication and innovation from the open banking team and believe the organisation is in a strong position to successfully take open banking mainstream. Given my background advising the industry on fintech and innovation I am excited to bring my experience to the OBIE Trustee role.“

“The success of open banking, and what the OBIE team has already achieved with the industry and policymakers, has played a critical role for consumers and SMEs across the UK. We must look to leverage this in offering openness and competition in financial services and be ambitious on our journey towards open finance and smart data."

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