RBS pegs its bill for claims by SMEs in Britain to £400m

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) said its potential bill for claims against its small business restructuring division will remain at £400m (€448m) after misconduct allegations against it were dismissed by Britain’s financial regulator.

The FCA published a detailed summary of a report into RBS’ Global Restructuring Group after customers had accused the GRG of pushing ailing firms into bankruptcy to pick up their assets on the cheap.

The watchdog last year effectively cleared RBS of the many of the allegations by customers. The bank set up the £400m scheme to reimburse fees to customers who say they were mistreated.

The FCA’s summary said the most serious allegations were not upheld in the report — reiterating findings from its “high level” summary published last year, the watchdog said in a statement.

The watchdog has rejected calls from British members of parliament to publish the full report that was undertaken by consultants Promontory.

The detailed summary reiterated that the full report has identified other concerns about the treatment of small firms.

“RBS has accepted that it did not meet the standards it set for itself which impacted on how it treated some of its SME customers,” FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey said. “We are investigating the matters arising from the [consultant’s] report and are focusing on whether there is any basis for further action within our powers. We cannot comment any further on this,” Mr Bailey said.

The watchdog could take action against the bank or individuals. RBS said it welcomed the FCA’s confirmation that the most serious allegations have not been upheld, and that the steps it announced in November to put things right for customers remained appropriate.

RBS said it had completed the automatic refund of complex fees, with more than 115 million pounds of refund offers made. It said it continued to estimate the cumulative cost of these measures to be about £400m.

“The culture, structure and way RBS operates today have all changed fundamentally since the period under review,” RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said.

Separately, the FCA fined Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch investment banking arm £34.5m for its third transaction reporting failure in just over a decade. It said the bank failed to have adequate oversight arrangements, undertake testing or allocate enough staff to properly meet reporting obligations for derivatives trading between February 2014 and February 2016.

Reuters


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