MPs blast RBS dishonesty over help for small firms

Tim Wallace
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RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton apologised on behalf of executives for misleading the MPs
Top RBS executives deliberately misled MPs who were investigating allegations of the mistreatment of small firms, an influential committee claimed yesterday.

Bosses at the bailed out bank told the Treasury Select Committee of MPs that its Global Restructuring Group (GRG) – meant to help turn around struggling firms – was not a profit centre.

But a probe by ex-Bank of England deputy governor Sir Andrew Large found it was exactly that.

“Parliament expects witnesses to give straightforward evidence. Two senior managers at RBS fell short of this standard at a hearing with the Treasury Committee in June,” said committee chairman Andrew Tyrie MP. “Anybody can make a simple mistake in their evidence. But this was more than that – it was materially incorrect on a crucial point and unacceptable.”

The two executives at the hearing were deputy chief executive Chris Sullivan and GRG boss Derek Sach.

The committee also published a letter from RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton apologising for the executives’ mistakes.

“The answer to whether Sir Andrew was right is ‘yes’… it is plain this is the answer the committee should have received and I am sorry it did not,” Hampton wrote. “You rightly expect the highest standards from those that provide evidence to the committee. I regret that we have not met those standards on this occasion.”

Derek Sach has also written to clarify his evidence.

Some of the small firms which were cited in RBS’ evidence also disputed the claims the bank helped them.

Manufacturing firm Independent Slitters complained that the exec­utives presented them as a case study in turning around a firm successfully, when the firm argues it was over-charged and poorly treated by RBS’ GRG.

Over the summer RBS decided to close the GRG, and Sach is expected to leave the bank in early 2015.