Saturday 7 December 2019

RBS fined €32m for giving prices to Barclays

Kevin Crowley and Erik Larson

Royal Bank of Scotland, the recipient of the world’s biggest bank bailout, was fined £28.6m (€32m) by UK antitrust authorities for giving confidential future pricing data to Barclays.

The fine was reduced from £33.6m because RBS admitted the breaches and cooperated, the UK's Office of Fair Trading said today in statement.

Barclays isn’t likely to be fined because it brought the matter to the OFT’s attention.

“The disclosures by RBS took place in the course of a number of contacts on the fringes of social, client or industry events or through telephone conversations,” the London-based regulator said in today’s statement.

Two employees in RBS’s professional practices coverage team disclosed generic and specific confidential future pricing data to their counterparts at Barclays from October 2007 to February or March 2008, according to statements from RBS and the OFT.

This situation is a “deeply regrettable and isolated case,” RBS said in a statement.

One of the employees who was involved left the bank and the other faces suspension and further investigation following the settlement, RBS said.

“We have cooperated fully with the OFT throughout and have introduced stringent additional competition law training to ensure that this unacceptable behavior does not happen again,” a spokeswoman for the Edinburgh-based lender said.

Loan pricing disclosed

The information disclosed to London-based Barclays, the UK’s second-biggest bank, included the pricing of loans to professional-services firms such as accountants, lawyers and property businesses, the regulator said.

Barclays voluntarily alerted the OFT to the breaches on March 17, 2008, after its employees had been approached by RBS workers “in a manner which we regarded as inappropriate,” the bank said in a statement today.

“As a result, the Office of Fair Trading conducted an investigation with which Barclays has been cooperating,” Barclays spokesman Alistair Smith said in the statement.

In 2007, the OFT issued a record £121.5m fine against British Airways for price-fixing violations with Virgin Atlantic Airways on long-haul flights.


Also in Business