Police in Scotland are examining accusations that a controversial division of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), established to restore striving companies to health, broke the law in the bank’s dealings with them.
According to a report of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) that was leaked in August, more than 90 percent of the firms placed into Global Restructuring Group (GRG) of RBS, that are established after the financial crisis, are to have suffered “inappropriate action” against them by the bank.
Police Scotland says that it is a scoping exercise that has been underway for some months, rather than an investigation. However, they are evaluating the allegations for criminality.
In a statement, the force stated: “Police Scotland can confirm that they have received reports regarding The Royal Bank of Scotland and that enquiries are ongoing to assess if there is any criminality present in the allegations made within these reports.”
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The bank stated: “RBS has recently become aware that Police Scotland are reviewing an individual complaint made against RBS. RBS is not privy to any details but will cooperate with any request for information made by Police Scotland or the Crown Office.”
RBS admitted in 2016 that it “could have done better” for the 12,000 small business customers that were served by the now-defunct unit. However, it denies accusations that it tried to earn profit from their difficulties.
Among the things that it got wrong were apparent conflicts of interest and transparency on fees.
Many of the top managers of GRG have left, and it has been folded into other parts of the bank, and in 2016, the bank set aside nearly £400m to compensate a number of those small businesses.
The shadow business and international trade minister of Labour, Bill Esterson MP, stated: “It is crucial that the truth is discovered as part of a full and transparent process and that trust between businesses and some of the banks is restored.
“Financial institutions have a duty to help smaller businesses succeed, not push them to the brink to boost internal profits.”