No evidence of fraud at SME restructuring unit - RBS

Thursday 17 April 2014 13.25
RBS had been accused of forcing struggling businesses into its Global Restructuring Group
RBS had been accused of forcing struggling businesses into its Global Restructuring Group

Royal Bank of Scotland has said an independent review has found no evidence that it set out to defraud its business customers.

The bank, which is 81%-owned by the British government, commissioned the review after it was accused it of pushing struggling small firms into its "turnaround" unit, so it could charge higher fees and take control of their assets.

"I welcome the Clifford Chance findings which show no evidence of the serious and damaging allegation that we had set out to deliberately defraud our business customers," Chief Executive Ross McEwan said today.

Lawrence Tomlinson, who serves as an "entrepreneur-in-residence" at British government minister Vince Cable's business department, said RBS had engineered businesses into default in order to move them into its Global Restructuring Group (GRG), enabling it to generate revenue through higher fees and the purchase of devalued assets by its property division, West Register.

In response to the Clifford Chance report, RBS said it would wind down and sell any assets in West Register.

The bank said the report found some cases where customers felt its fees were not clear and a handful of customers had made allegations about the behaviour of bank staff. 

RBS said it was investigating those cases.

Mr McEwan said GRG had successfully turned round the vast majority of businesses which it worked with, while dealing with billions of bad loans built up by reckless lending in the run up to the 2008 financial crisis.

GRG's activities are still the subject of a review by Britain's financial regulator.