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Watchdog called on to publish report after "shocking" revelations about RBS

Hayley Kirton
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The FCA report was initially due out by the end of 2015 (Source: Getty)

The City watchdog is being urged to release a long-awaited report into RBS' Global Restructuring Group (GRG), following "shocking" leaked stories about its treatment of small businesses.

RBS has long been accused of purposely pushing small businesses into financial hardship so they could be put into the GRG. This, in turn, benefited the bank through additional fees, increased margins and allowing it to purchase properties at low prices through its property division.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had been expected to publish a report into GRG, which is being compiled by "independent skilled persons" Promontory Financial Group and Mazars, by the end of 2015, but it has been delayed.

Now, BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight have published a leaked bundle of documents, purporting to show the extent staff were encouraged to push businesses into restructuring for the bank's benefit.

Read more: Long overdue RBS report finally lands on watchdog's desk

"The leaks today illustrate the need for the FCA to get on with publication as soon as possible. I will be writing to the FCA for a publication date," said Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury Committee.

"On the basis of what has come out so far, this appears to be a shocking story, with many businesses at the wrong end of it, and who deserved better. The longer the delay in publication, the longer that many small firms may have to wait to receive any compensation."

James Hayward, chief executive of RGL Management – a group set up for the purpose of bringing legal action against RBS in respect of GRG – added that by delaying the report's release "the FCA has been playing a cruel game with the lives of desperate people who are putting off taking legal action until they see if there might be any worthwhile compensation scheme attached to or recommended by the report, with the result that many otherwise meritorious and deserving claims will be time barred".

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Last week, the FCA revealed it now had a copy of the final report, but added there were still various steps it needed to take before it could share the findings.

"This has been a complex and lengthy review – it is therefore important that we do not rush the final stages of this process," an FCA spokesperson added.

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Jon Pain, chief conduct and regulatory affairs officer at RBS, added:

RBS has been very clear that GRG's role was to protect the bank's position, where possible by working with distressed businesses to return them to financial health. In the aftermath of the financial crisis we did not always meet our own high standards and we let some of our SME customers down.

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