The convener of the Holyrood Standards Committee has asked for proof the head of the new national investment bank is a “fit and proper person”.
In a letter to Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, Bill Kidd questioned the appointment of Willie Watt as the chairman of the new Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB).
Reports in the Sunday Mail cast doubt on the process around Mr Watt’s appointment to the position, as a result of an “unregulated” interview process.
Mr Watt was also the chief executive of equity firm Martin Currie when it was fined £8.6m in a conflict of interest case in 2012.
Former finance secretary Derek Mackay assured the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee in a letter in January that Mr Watt had “completed satisfactorily” all tests needed to prove he was a “fit and proper person”.
However, Mr Kidd appears to cast doubt on the former cabinet secretary’s assertions, telling his successor: “I am writing to request further information about the steps taken by the appointing minister to confirm that Mr Watt was a fit and proper person for the position, as required by the Code of Practice, including how it was confirmed that his conduct to date had been compatible with the public appointment.
“The Committee would wish to understand what this confirmation process involves in practice.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government answered these questions in January, when the former cabinet secretary wrote to the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee and outlined in full the steps involved in the fit and proper persons test.
“This was part of a rigorous recruitment process following the Code of Practice for Ministerial and Public Appointments, mandated by the ethical standards commissioner.
“This approach was agreed with the Scottish Parliament who raised no concerns regarding the Scottish Government’s rationale for proceeding with an unregulated process in appointing the chair of the bank.
“The government engaged with the commissioner about a non-statutory role but this was not possible.
“The correspondence is available to view in full on the parliament website.”
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