SCOTLAND’S £2billion state-owned investment bank has admitted it still has no idea when it will have a new chief executive, a full year after the last one suddenly walked out.

The Scottish National Investment Bank said it had “no expectations” of when the role would be filled, despite it being worth £260,000-a-year in pay and pension contributions.

Opposition parties said it was extraordinary that the flagship project appeared so "rudderless and clueless” and there was not even an estimate for the key post being occupied.

The Bank, which went live in 2020, will invest £2bn of public money in a decade to support green jobs and the just transition to a net zero economy

Its first chief executive officer was Eilidh Mactaggart, who abruptly resigned after just 18 months in the job, telling Bank chair Willie Watt of her decision on January 27, 2022.

The board and the Scottish Government, the bank’s sole shareholder, were told on January 31, but there was no public disclosure of her going until February 25 last year. 

The Bank then repeatedly refused to explain why Ms Mactaggart left.

With finance secretary Kate Forbes and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also refusing to explain, opposition MSPs at Holyrood complained furiously about the lack of transparency.

Ms Mactaggart belatedly issued a statement saying she left for “personal reasons” and was “considering a number of opportunities” and looking forward to more time with her family.

It later emerged that the Bank had agreed to pay her five months’ salary of £98,250 in lieu of notice, but again it refused to explain why, citing personal confidentiality and employer duties.

Since Ms Mactaggart's exit, the bank’s chief financial officer, Sara Roughead, has been acting CEO.

In March, Mr Watt told MSPs he expected it to “take some time” to recruit a new CEO, suggesting it could be in the “second half” of 2022.

In May, the Herald revealed the bank had hired blue chip London-based headhunters Spencer Stuart to help find a new CEO on a six-month contract worth £175,000.

However last week, deputy FM John Swinney revealed the search had failed.

He told MSPs on Holyrood’s economy and fair work committee that “a candidate emerged, but decided not to take the post”, adding: “The recruitment process continues.”

He admitted the recruitment would have to “restart” and said he wanted it completed “as soon as possible, but only with the right candidate”.

The Herald asked the Bank repeatedly for an estmate of how long the fresh recruitment round would take.

However a spokesman said “there are no specific timescales associated with it”.

He said: “We have retained an Executive Search agency, Spencer Stuart, for a contract of £175,000 that includes recruitment for the CEO. 

“We have also incurred additional expenses of £5,400 for candidate testing used as part of the selection process.

“The contract with Spencer Stuart remains in place with no additional search fees beyond the original £175,000. There are no expectations for when the appointment will be announced and the role filled.”

Scottish Tory business spokesman Jamie Halcro Johnson, who asked Mr Swinney about the missing CEO at committee last week, said: “It doesn’t say much for the SNP’s commitment to their supposedly flagship initiative that it remains rudderless after more than a year.

"Nor that SNIB has no timetable, or even any expectation of when an appointment will be announced.

“John Swinney was equally clueless when I quizzed him on this last week in committee.

"When it was launched, Nicola Sturgeon trumpeted the ‘economic, social and environmental returns’ she claimed it would bring. Now it seems they can’t muster enough interest to find someone to lead it.

“Unless they get a grip, this risks being yet another example of the SNP’s overblown promises, followed by a failure to deliver.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie added: “What chance of success does the bank have if it doesn’t even have a boss? 

“The SNP Government talk a brilliant game but too often fail to deliver. This won’t inspire confidence in the business world.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The recruitment of the Bank’s new CEO is ongoing. The Bank is continuing to deliver effectively under the leadership of its Interim Chief Executive, Sarah Roughead, and Chair, Willie Watt.”  

In reference to the appointment of the new CEO, Bank chair Willie Watt said “The Scottish National Investment Bank was established to play a leading and transformative role in the Scottish economy.

“Therefore, given the significance of the appointment, it is important that we get the right person, with the relevant skills and experience to lead the Bank.

“To date, we have attracted a considerable number of high-quality individuals from a range of backgrounds and with a variety of experience, and I remain confident that we will appoint the right candidate.

“As Chair I am delighted by the progress the Bank has made under the leadership of our interim CEO, Sarah Roughead. Sarah is supported in her role by myself and the other members of the Board, as well as an experienced Executive Team.

“Under Sarah’s leadership, the Bank has now concluded 24 investments, directly committing £372.9m of the Bank’s capital alongside an additional £650m of capital from other lenders and investors.”