RBS misled MPs in customer mistreatment scandal, Labour claims

Royal Bank of Scotland misled parliament over the extent of its mistreatment of struggling business customers, the shadow Treasury minister has claimed.

Labour’s Clive Lewis told the Commons on Tuesday he has seen an un-redacted copy of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) investigation into practices at the bank’s restructuring unit, which states the lender’s behaviour was “systemic and widespread”.

The shadow Treasury minister added that the RBS chief executive, Ross McEwan, and its chairman, Sir Howard Davies, “misled the Treasury select committee in their evidence and [the bank] had a stated policy of misleading members of this house”.

The MP has now handed the document over to the chair of the Treasury select committee, Nicky Morgan.

Lewis’s comments follow McEwan’s and Davies’ grilling last week at the hands of the Treasury committee, which is investigating allegations that the bank’s Global Restructuring Group [GRG] unit intentionally pushed some struggling businesses towards failure to pick up their assets on the cheap.

During that hearing the RBS chairman admitted the report contained instances “of which nightmares are made”. However, the two directors argued that the worst examples of behaviour within GRG were not “widespread”.

Lewis told MPs: “Far from being isolated incidents of poor governance as they claimed to the committee, this report explicitly states their behaviour was ‘systemic and widespread’. In one shocking passage … the bank boasted one family business was set to ‘lose their shirts’ so RBS could get a ‘chunky equity deal’.

“Furthermore, it is clear the summary of the report the FCA has published is, what I would politely describe as, a sanitised version.”

The FCA has agreed to publish the full GRG report after RBS said it would not prevent its release.

Morgan said: “The FCA has consented to publish [the] report once it has completed its [enforcement] investigations into conduct at GRG. The committee expects these investigations to be completed swiftly.”

RBS said: “The evidence we provided to the Treasury committee accurately reflected the bank’s position. We are not clear on what basis the allegations are being made, but we would strongly deny the suggestion that we misled the committee.”