Treasury committee chair Andrew Tyrie calls for prompt review on RBS share sale

Hayley Kirton
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The public will want to be certain the first share sale was secured at the best value, Tyrie said (Source: Getty)

The chair of the Treasury Select Committee has today written to the National Audit Office (NAO), seeking a swift review on previous advice given on the government's sale of RBS shares.

Andrew Tyrie has sent a letter to Sir Amyas Morse, comptroller and auditor general at the NAO, asking for the Morse's department to take a closer look at advice given by UK Financial Investments (UKFI) ahead of government's first sale of RBS shares last summer.

Specifically, Tyrie is asking for a review to be carried out before any further share sales take place and, at the very least, within the next two years. He added the NAO should see the recent Brexit vote as an opportunity, as it is likely to delay any further sales and therefore buy them some time.

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"Parliament and the public will want reassurance that the chancellor’s decision to sell the first tranche of shares in RBS in August 2015 secured the best value for money for the taxpayer, and was not influenced by political expediency," said Tyrie of his correspondence. "UKFI was created with the intention to ensure that state and partly state-owned banks are run, and seen to be run, free from government interference.

"There is a risk that UKFI is being used as a fig leaf to disguise a high level of Treasury control. UKFI’s advice on this sale is therefore of considerable public interest."

In August last year, the government raised just over £2bn from selling a 5.4 per cent stake in the bank at 330p per share – a significant discount from the 500p per share the stake was originally acquired at.

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Shares in RBS are currently trading down 0.9 per cent on last night's closing price at 189.85p.

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Both UKFI and the Treasury declined to comment.

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