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Ex-chairman of UK's Co-op Bank charged with drug possession

Paul Flowers, the former head of Britain's Co-op Bank, has been charged with drug offenses. He resigned last year after a paper published footage of him allegedly buying drugs.

Paul Flowers, a 63-year-old former Methodist minister who was also chairman of Britain's Co-operative Bank, was charged with possession of cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine in Leeds on Wednesday.

He stepped down as chairman of Co-op Bank and deputy chairman of the Co-Op Group in June last year after claims of illegal drug use and concerns about his expenses. He was

arrested last November

.

Flowers was also suspended as a minister by the Methodist Church, as well as by the UK's Labour Party, for which he once served as a city councillor.

Last year, the Co-op Bank had to plug a 1.5-billion-pound ($2.4 billion, 1.8 billion euros) hole and agreed to a rescue plan that saw hedge funds buy a huge chunk of its operations. The bank prides itself on ethical investments.

Flowers, who has no banking qualifications, first came under scrutiny in late October, when he could not answer basic questions about his bank at a parliamentary committee. The Mail on Sunday newspaper then published a video of him allegedly showing him arranging to purchase drugs.

Flowers made no comment when he left the police station on Wednesday. He is to appear at Leeds Magistrates Court in Northern England on May 7.

A second man, Gavin Woroniuk, has been charged in connection with the incident and is due to face court on the same date.

ng/jr (AP, AFP, dpa)

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