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SNIB invests £7.5 million in firm run by employee’s brother


The Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) is facing fresh questions about potential conflicts of interest as Disruption Banking reveals the Bank invested £7.5 million of taxpayers’ money in a firm run by an employee’s brother.

In January 2021, the SNIB hired an Investment Origination Analyst. During their time at the Bank, in March 2022, the travel technology business Travelnest secured £7.5 million in investment from the SNIB. The CEO of Travelnest, Doug Stephenson, is the brother of the former analyst, who then left the Bank in August 2022 shortly after the investment was made.

This raises questions as to whether Travelnest potentially gained an unfair advantage over competitors in obtaining insider knowledge of the investment process.

A spokesperson for the Scottish National Investment Bank said: “Like others operating across the financial, investment, and public sectors, the proper management of conflicts of interest is a key consideration for the Scottish National Investment Bank. We have a clear and robust Conflicts of Interest Policy, which has been in place since the Bank launched in November 2020. This policy ensures we work in an environment free from improper influence.  If any conflict should arise, mitigation and interest management measures are put in place, with a record maintained on a Conflicts of Interest Register. In the case referenced, our policy was thoroughly followed and applied, with appropriate mitigation actioned from the outset.

“The Scottish National Investment Bank maintains robust and rigorous processes across all of our Risk, Remuneration, Valuations, Audit, and Investment committees, which are comparable with the highest standards across both the investment and public sectors. The Investment committee objectively assesses each business case on its commercial merits and its anticipated impact against the Bank’s missions. This assessment includes the consideration of appropriate due diligence, including Conflicts of Interest, and it is a process in which we have complete confidence.”

Disruption Banking previously revealed that the SNIB has invested a total of £16.5 million of taxpayers’ money in three companies with links to the Scottish Government, and that the Bank may be operating unlawfully. Last week Disruption Banking published correspondence showing a senior executive believes the SNIB’s risk management processes are “terrible.”

Travelnest did not respond to a request for comment.

Author: Harry Clynch

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