UK Queen withdraws royal honour from convicted ex-CFO of BT

UK Queen withdraws royal honour from convicted ex-CFO of BT

25 September 2020 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

A former CFO of BT has had his honour removed, 10 years after he left the company and eight years after being convicted of insider trading.

France’s financial regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), fined Hanif Lalani (pictured) €1.5 million and members of his family a further €4.6 million in 2012 for profiting from BT’s plan to buy a listed Paris company, Net2S, from its founder shareholders in a deal valuing the company at €68.5 million.

Lalani had been group CFO of BT and then became CEO of BT Global Services, resigning in 2010.

During his BT career he was nominated for an honour – Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) – by the UK government, though the honour is officially presented by the Queen.

Now the Queen has withdrawn the honour from Lalani, it was announced in an official publication.

What’s perhaps surprising is that Lalani has continued to work in the telecoms industry despite his record.

Three years ago, in September 2017, he appeared in a promotion by Tcell of Tajikistan of its Digital Camp project.

According to Companies House, where shareholder and directorship records are kept for England and Wales, Lalani was a director of two subsidiaries of Interoute, EGHL and EGHL (UK) from 1 September 2010, shortly after he left BT, and director of another, Interoute Managed Services (UK), from 22 March 2013. Interoute is now part of GTT, whcih is trying to sell it. 

He resigned from all of those directorships on 4 June 2013, the year after details of his conviction were published.

He was also a director of a private limited company, Omnia Telecommunications, between February 2013 and October 2014, two years after his conviction. Omnia is now dissolved.

When Lalani left BT at the start of 2010 then CEO Ian Livingston, later a minister in the Conservative government, said of Lalani’s time at BT Global Services: “Hanif and his team have firstly stabilised and then started to turn around the business.”

The quick replacement, announced on the day of Lalani’s departure, was Jeff Kelly, who’d spent his career with IT services group EDS. “My job is to build on these [Lalani’s] foundations,” said Kelly at the time. Kelly left at the end of 2012, and Livingston said he had “transformed” the division.