The discredited boss of doorstep lender Provident Financial amassed a £40 million personal fortune by selling exorbitantly costly loans to vulnerable, low income families, a Mail on Sunday investigation has revealed.
Peter Crook, 54, totted up the huge sum over his decade as chief executive of the group, building a multi-million pound shareholding through incentive schemes.
He offloaded £2.3 million of shares as recently as April, when the price was over 3000p. It is now languishing at just over 900p.
Provident Financial boss Peter Crook amassed a £40m personal fortune over his decade as chief executive of the group
The company said he sold the holding to settle a big tax bill relating to his incentives and that he received no cash.
Crook quit his lucrative post last week after the firm revealed that his botched overhaul of the firm’s agents had sent its loans business into chaos and that the firm was separately under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Provident saw £1.7 billion of its value wiped in one day, in one of the biggest single-day share drops in the FTSE 100’s history.
The dramatic plunge came after the firm warned that its door-to-door credit business is on course for a loss of up to £120 million.
The City has been uneasy for months about the firm, which has seen a big rise in people failing to pay back loans after it sacked swathes of its self-employed payment collectors. Despite the looming disaster, Crook was paid £6.3 million last year alone.
His outsized pay packet – for running one of the smaller FTSE 100 firms, with a stock market value of less than £3 billion at the time – made him the best paid Footsie loan boss in 2016.
He took home more than the bosses of RBS, Barclays and Lloyds, and even out-earned Stuart Gulliver, who presides over HSBC’s £150 billion empire.
While mainstream bank bosses have been pilloried over pay, his disproportionate package slipped under the radar – until now.
As part of it he received £102,000 of perks, among them a company car, fuel allowance and health insurance. After May 2015 he received an unspecified allowance because his place of work changed from Bradford to London, a couple of hours from his palatial Northamptonshire home.
The chairman of the pay committee that approved the award is Malcolm Le May, an ex-Barclays executive who was paid £106,000 last year.
Crook has been hit in the pocket by the shares collapse. He had 521,000 shares and options at the time of the last annual report that were worth £16 million in the spring. Their value will have dropped to £4.7 million.
Despite this blow, his wealth is in stark contrast to the circumstances of many of his customers, who pay annual interest rates of more than 1,500 per cent to borrow £100 for 13 weeks.
Though Provident is not the highest charging firm on the market, it is one critics accuse of exploiting vulnerable borrowers.
The firm also owns the Vanquis credit card, which charges annual interest of nearly 40 per cent, against about 19 per cent on a Barclaycard.
Crook could not be reached for comment. Provident Financial declined to comment.