Monday 19 August 2019

FCA summary of report into RBS restructuring unit ‘fair and balanced’

The bank has been dogged by allegations that it pushed small businesses towards failure in the hope of picking up their assets on the cheap.

RBS report
RBS report

By Ben Woods

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a “fair and balanced” summary of a report investigating how the Royal Bank of Scotland’s controversial restructuring unit treated small business customers, according to specialist advisers.

In written evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Green QC said the interim summary showed Britain’s financial watchdog had “gone to considerable lengths” to be fair and accurate, but flagged that it had also left out certain information about how much managers at Global Restructuring Group (GRG) knew about the failings.

RBS has been dogged by allegations that it intentionally pushed small businesses towards failure in the hope of picking up their assets on the cheap.

Assessing the interim summary, Mr Green wrote: “Our assessment is that … the interim summary is a fair and balanced account of the findings of the GRG Report, does not contain material omissions and closely reflects the tone and narrative of the GRG Report.

“Having compared the GRG Report and the interim summary, it is clear to us that the FCA and its advisers have gone to considerable lengths to summarise fairly and accurately the GRG Report’s findings, recommendations and conclusions, and have … succeeded in doing so.”

In its interim summary published last month, the FCA pointed to “significant concerns” about how small business customers were treated by the bank and said it may take further action against the state-backed lender.

It comes after Nicky Morgan, chairwoman of the TSC, ramped up pressure on the FCA to publish details of misconduct by RBS and threatened to use “formal powers” to demand publication of the full leaked report into the lender.

In his specialist advisers’ report, Mr Green added: “The one significant issue affecting the fairness and balance of the interim summary is identified in the interim summary itself, on page 7 of the introduction.

“The issue is that the FCA has chosen to omit from the interim summary ‘certain findings about GRG management’s state of knowledge of the failings in GRG’.

“In consequence, there are material omissions from the interim summary as to the state of knowledge of GRG’s management about the failings in GRG.

“We do not express that conclusion as a criticism of the FCA or its advisers, because the omission of such findings has been candidly identified in the introduction to the interim summary; and they have explained the reasons for it.

“Those reasons are based on considerations of fairness towards individual members of management, who have not (in the FCA’s view) had the opportunity to make representations on those ‘state of knowledge’ findings.”

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