The publication of a Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) report on Royal Bank of Scotland’s Global Restructuring Group could sink the bank, TV presenter Noel Edmonds sensationally claimed today.
Edmonds last week claimed to have been sent a leaked copy of the report, which the City regulator has refused to make public, despite censure from influential MPs from all major political parties.
Quoting figures he said came from Lawrence Tomlinson, the author on a report on the scandal published in 2013, Edmonds said claims could amount to £100bn, around three times the group’s market capitalisation.
“The claims that RBS would receive would be in excess of £100bn. The bank is worth a quarter of that.”
“It would be the end of RBS,” Edmonds said, at an event in London held by SME Alliance, a group formed in 2014 to support business owners who claim to be victims of fraud in the financial sector.
Edmonds’s involvement with the campaign group stems from his own experience with HBOS’s Reading branch, whose employees deliberately ran businesses into the ground.
In February this year, two former HBOS bankers were among six people jailed over the scheme.
Edmonds has this year been pursuing a £300m claim for damages against Lloyds Banking Group, who bought HBOS in late 2008.
That resulted in a barrage of messages from business owners with similar experiences, Edmonds said, including an email containing the FCA report, which was also leaked to the BBC.
Edmonds said the FCA has written to him, telling him that publishing the report would be a criminal offence. The FCA has so far refused to publish the report, claiming it would not be in the public interest to reveal the full report. It has previously published a summary of the report.
In relation to the HBOS case, Edmonds today accused Lloyds chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio of either having more knowledge of the HBOS scandal than he has previously let on, or of being incompetent.
Addressing the Lloyds boss, a furious Edmonds said: “You’re either a shit banker or a liar.”
A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) said: “Although HBOS was aware of allegations regarding HBOS Reading, investigations undertaken at the time could only consider information directly held by the bank, which was shared with regulators. While concerns regarding the misconduct of certain HBOS individuals were identified, there was not sufficient evidence to establish criminal behaviour.
“The police and regulators were the appropriate authorities to conduct the investigation. The subsequent police investigation, in which we fully cooperated, was able to use police powers to gather the evidence which led to the convictions of those concerned and it was for the court and jury to decide whether there was criminal activity.
“We are cooperating fully with the FCA investigation into the discovery and reporting of misconduct at HBOS at the time, and Dame Linda Dobbs, a retired judge, has been appointed to undertake an independent review of whether LBG could and should have done more after the acquisition of HBOS. The Group is determined to get to the bottom of what went on, and a thorough investigation is being conducted.”