MPs are preparing to use parliamentary powers to obtain a damning watchdog report into RBS’s mistreatment of small businesses – although the full document has already been leaked online.
In a further twist to the deepening farce surrounding the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) report into RBS’s Global Restructuring Group (GRG), the Treasury Select Committee said it would compel the regulator to give it a copy if it failed to meet a deadline of this Friday to publish. It will then vote next Tuesday on whether to put it in the public domain.
Nicky Morgan, chair of the committee, said the FCA had “lost control” after a copy of the 350-page investigation was uploaded to a blog by an individual connected to victims of the scandal last night.
The FCA has said it cannot meet the committee’s deadline as it needs the consent of former RBS bosses implicated by the findings – a process known as Maxwellisation – that can take months to complete.
The regulator has warned it would be a criminal offence for individuals to publish the report. However Parliament has the legal power to publish without fear of prosecution.
Media outlets including The Telegraph, the Mail on Sunday and the BBC have also obtained copies of the report.
RBS was responsible for ‘widespread’ mistreatment of small firms between 2008 and 2013, according to the report
The document reveals the full extent of “widespread inappropriate treatment” of small firms transferred into GRG between 2008 and 2013 and lays blame with former bank bosses for chasing profits at the expense of distressed firms.
GRG management is heavily criticised for creating an “endemic” culture of prioritising commercial goals, putting further pressure on senior figures including Santander’s UK boss Nathan Bostock.
Mr Bostock was head of restructuring and risk at RBS before joining its rival, and also chaired the GRG executive committee, according to an organisational chart published by Buzzfeed.
The report also found a recently published internal GRG memo – which encouraged managers to give struggling customers enough rope to “hang themselves” – showed attitudes that were “common” at GRG.
Today MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, chaired by Labour MP Clive Lewis, accused the FCA of publishing a “significantly watered down” summary of the GRG report last autumn.
“The FCA must now answer very serious questions about why they have resisted the release of the full report for so long,” the MPs added.
The Treasury Select Committee hired a QC to compare the FCA’s summary with the underlying report last autumn, who judged it to be “fair and balanced”, even though it omitted evidence on the extent of RBS managers’ knowledge of mistreatment by the bank for legal reasons.
An RBS spokesman said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on allegations against managers while the FCA was continuing investigations into GRG.
The spokesman added: “The report makes for very difficult reading and some of the language used by our staff in the past was clearly unacceptable.
“We are deeply sorry that customers did not receive the experience they should have done while in GRG.”
An FCA spokesman said: “A leaked version of the report does not change the FCA’s obligation to comply with the law in order to get the report published.” Santander and Mr Bostock have previously declined to comment.
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