Reading council has been accused of a banking ‘fail’ for investing £15 million in Qatar National Bank when it could have invested in a more ‘ethical’ bank.

John Sharpe, who lives in East Reading, has questioned why the council has not invested in Triodos Bank instead.

Triodos is a Dutch bank which operates in the UK, has been praised by Mr Sharpe for its transparent and community focused investment policy.

In Reading, Triodos has invested in the charity Launchpad, World Education Berkshire which runs Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC), and the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine.

Triodos has an every day savings account which provides an interest rate of 0.85 per cent.

Mr Sharpe said: “It would be interesting to know how much the council has invested with Triodos -if anything- and if not, why not?”

His suggestion comes after councillor Josh Williams (Green, Park) criticised the council for investing in Qatar National Bank.

READ MORE: Reading council slammed for investing £15 million in Qatar

Although cllr Williams did not comment on the practices of the bank itself, he did criticise the human rights record of Qatar, which he called “lamentable.”

According to human rights monitor Freedom House,  LGBT+ people are subject to legal and societal discrimination in Qatar, with vague legal wording that can be interpreted to criminalize same-sex sexual activity.

The council invested £15 million in Qatar National Bank from March to May, in a fixed term deposit account that generated  £23,564.38 in interest income.

The interest rate for the account was 0.94 per cent, only nine per cent more than the savings account interest provided by Triodos.

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The council has not invested in Triodos and is unlikely to do so until its credit rating increases.

A council spokesperson explained: “The Council approves an Annual Investment Strategy as part of its Treasury Management Statement in February each year, which can be found on the website.

“The primary principle governing the Council’s investment criteria is the security of its investments.

“As such, and as set out in the Annual Investment Strategy, the Council has determined that it will only use approved counterparties from the UK and from countries with a minimum sovereign credit rating of AA- from Fitch, Moody’s or Standard & Poor credit rating agencies.

“The Annual Investment Strategy also requires that individual bank counterparties have a minimum credit rating of A-.

Triodos Bank currently has a credit rating of BBB from Fitch only.

“Therefore, whilst the Council can invest in banks registered in The Netherlands, this particular bank does not currently meet the Council’s approved investment criteria.

“The UK subsidiary, Triodos Bank UK does not have a current credit rating with any of the credit rating agencies mentioned above and again would therefore not currently meet the Council’s approved investment criteria.

“The Council has therefore not invested in this bank or its UK subsidiary.

“The Council only enters into Fixed Term Deposit investments with banks that meet the approved investment criteria, therefore the savings account suggested is not a valid comparison in terms of product or investment duration even if the Council could invest in this bank.”