Management at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) were aware of failings in its small business restructuring group, but “turned a blind eye”, according to a leaked report seen by the Mail on Sunday.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigated RBS's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) after small businesses claimed they were wrongly – and to their detriment – placed into the group, which was designed to help struggling firms. Some alleged they were even forced into insolvency.
According to the Mail, the FCA's unpublished report reveals RBS management pressured staff to squeeze companies in order to make more profit for the bank. It said that staff were told: “Sometimes you just need to let customers hang themselves,” or, “Missed opportunities mean missed bonuses.”
The FCA declined to comment, but noted in its final summary of the report last week that it “made certain findings about GRG management’s state of knowledge of the failings”. It said it would undertake further work “to understand what RBS management actually knew or ought to have known”, and that this was partly still ongoing.
The FCA has come under fire from politicians and the GRG's victims alike for its refusal to release the full report.
“It is in the public interest for this document to be fully published, and such publication is likely to assist the companies and family businesses that were victims of GRG in deciding on litigation against RBS,” said Ali Akram of LexLaw, a firm which is representing several claimants in cases against the bank.
But it has refused to do so, reasoning that individuals potentially implicated by the report have not yet had chance to stand up for themselves.
Criticisms levelled against the GRG in the FCA's report include that charges were lumped on troubled firms, and there was a failure to deal properly with complaints. Added to that, it said bank staff neglected to make sure entrepreneurs' interests were properly protected when GRG swapped loans for stakes in the business.