Economy

RBS at risk of 'further action' from watchdog over controversial turnaround unit

In its summary, the FCA said: "The independent review identified significant concerns about SME customer treatment by RBS, and SME customers engaged with during the independent review believe very strongly that they did not receive the support they could have reasonably expected in a period of extreme financial stress for many SMEs and other businesses and for the United Kingdom and global economy more generally".

The FCA has come under intense political pressure in recent weeks to publish the full "skilled persons" report, known as section 116, which was commissioned from a specialist consultancy called Promontory.

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.

The review found evidence of "widespread inappropriate treatment" of small business customers, including failing to support businesses in a manner consistent with good turnaround practice.

RGL Management chief executive James Hayward said: "We have always said that the FCA report will be a whitewash and that now looks to be the case".

It said it had identified instances of inappropriate treatment on the part of GRG in 92% of the cases it reviewed.

Mr Bailey said commercial lending is largely unregulated in the United Kingdom and the report "highlighted a gap in support for smaller businesses with genuine grievances about business banking conduct issues that could benefit from impartial assessment and quick resolution".

"While the most serious allegations were not upheld. the report did identify other concerns about the treatment of SME customers".

McEwan said some of the individuals employed by GRG continued to work at the bank, and that the bank and individuals could be the subject of investigations by the FCA.

"RBS is trying to play down the significance of the findings in the interim FCA report".

"It has taken the FCA too long to publish its summary of the skilled persons' report", she said.

A barrister hired by parliament's Treasury Select Committee, which has pressured the FCA to publish the report, still needs to check the detailed summary is faithful to its full contents. Nicky Morgan, the Conservative MP who chairs the committee, said the lawyer would report back to the MPs this week.

Bailey is due to be questioned on the report by the Treasury Committee on October 31.

The FCA report makes no mention of criminality, and the regulator refused to say whether it had made any reference to police forces around the UK. Amid concerning reports about the scope of RBS' £400 million compensation scheme for those affected, it's encouraging to hear that we will receive quarterly updates on how the redress process is progressing.

Bailey said the FCA had received many requests for help from small businesses and heard some "very sad stories".

He said the FCA is now seeking to widen the scope of the Financial Ombudsman Service to provide more access to this service to SMEs.



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