Former business secretary Vince Cable has used parliamentary privilege to allege that the current chief executive of Santander UK, Nathan Bostock, was “responsible” for the behaviour of the global restructuring group at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).
The Liberal Democrat leader also said senior management at RBS knew or should have known about alleged unethical behaviour at its global restructuring group (GRG), according to an independent review.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is investigating the GRG unit, which has been accused of profiting from the collapse of small businesses. However, the City watchdog has refused to publish a full report, produced by consultants Promontory, in the face of intense political pressure.
Cable today quoted an “incriminating phrase” from the report into the GRG unit, which said “management knew, or should have known, that this was an intended and co-ordinated strategy and that the mistreatment of business customers was a result of that”.
Bostock was “responsible for that policy”, Cable said in a backbench debate on the RBS GRG. Bostock joined RBS in June 2009 as head of restructuring and risk, before rising to chief financial officer in October 2013. He left RBS in August 2014 to become Santander UK chief executive in September of that year.
Clive Lewis, the Labour MP who called the debate, said the GRG activities were like an “abattoir” for small businesses, and that it showed a “full systemic failure”.
The debate came after a memo published yesterday at the request of the Treasury Select Committee showed RBS staff were advised by a colleague to “let customers hang themselves” in the search for profits.
The newly appointed City minister, John Glen, said the RBS GRG scandal will be the first issue he discusses with Andrew Bailey, head of the FCA, when he meets him for the first time.
Santander and RBS declined to comment.