The UK Government’s Treasury Select Committee on Tuesday published the final, unredacted skilled persons’ report into the treatment of small business customers by Royal Bank of Scotland’s notorious Global Restructuring Group (GRG).
“The Treasury Committee set the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the deadline of 16 February to publish the skilled persons’ report (Section 166) into RBS’ treatment of small business customers in its Global Restructuring Group (GRG),” said the committee.
“If they were unable to meet this deadline, the committee ordered the FCA to send the report to the committee by the same date.
“The FCA did not publish the report on 16 February, so therefore sent it to the committee.
“The committee has today agreed to publish the final, unredacted report immediately.”
Nicky Morgan, chair of the cross-party committee, said: “The findings in the report are disgraceful.
“The overarching priority at all levels of GRG was not the health and strength of customers, but the generation of income for RBS, through made-up fees, high interest rates, and the acquisition of equity and property.”
A spokesman for RBS said the report made for “very difficult reading” and it was “deeply sorry” that customers did not get the experience they should have done.
The RBS spokesman said: “Although the most serious allegation — that we deliberately targeted otherwise viable businesses in order to distress and asset-strip them for the bank’s profit — has been shown to be without foundation, we know that the bank got a lot wrong in how it treated some customers in GRG during the financial crisis.”
RBS added: “The culture, structure and way RBS operates today have all changed fundamentally since the period under review and we have made significant changes to deal with the issues of the past, including how we treat customers in financial distress.”
Morgan added: “The committee has not taken the decision to publish lightly.
“Normally, reports prepared under section 166 are confidential, but there is overwhelming public interest in bringing transparency to what happened at GRG, given the earlier leak of the report, and in ensuring that everyone can see, and know that they are seeing, an authentic and verified copy of Promontory’s original report.
“We have today published the terms of reference for our inquiry into SME finance.
“We’ll examine what must change to prevent what occurred at GRG from ever happening again, and how to restore confidence among SMEs in banks as a source of finance.
“I encourage all those with views to submit evidence.
“As well as continuing to monitor the FCA’s further investigation into GRG, we’ll keep a close eye on RBS’ Complaints Process to determine whether it is providing the fair and reasonable compensation that has been promised to mistreated customers.
“Any person referred to in the report is invited to make any observations to the committee.”