MP Clive Lewis claims RBS "misled" MPs over GRG, and the FCA's summary is "sanitised", as he reveals he has full report

 
Catherine Neilan
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Labour MP Clive Lewis has accused Royal Bank of Scotland executives of "misleading" MPs and blasted the FCA for producing a "sanitised" summary of its internal report on the treatment of business customers by RBS-GRG.

Speaking under Parliamentary Privilege, the shadow Treasury minister revealed he had been handed an redacted version of the FCA's own report, which he claimed challenged the official position of both parties.

Based on his reading of the report, Lewis said he believed RBS executives had "misled the [Treasury] Select Committee in their evidence, and had a stated policy of misleading MPs".

He added: "Far from being isolated incidents of poor governance... this report explicitly states their behaviour was - quote - 'systemic and widespread."

Lewis told the House of Commons that one passage of hundreds detailed showed that a family business was set to "lose their shirts", meaning RBS could get a "chunky equity deal".

The FCA's summary was "what I would politely call sanitised", he added.

Lewis said he hoped to hand the report in its entirety to the Treasury Select Committee, which - under the chairmanship of Conservative MP Nicky Morgan - has been fighting for information on this case for some months.

Morgan said: "The Committee has the power to require the FCA to produce the report. The Committee’s priority has always been to bring maximum transparency to events at GRG. In doing so, the Committee must ensure that the information it receives is accurate and complete. For this reason, were it to decide to publish the report, it would generally look to the FCA, as the body that commissioned the GRG review, to provide it.”

A spokesperson for the FCA said: "The summary was reviewed independently by Andrew Green QC, who was appointed by the Treasury Committee to assess whether it was a fair and balanced summary of the Skilled Person’s Report.

"Andrew Green QC concluded that it was a fair and balanced account of the findings of the Report and closely reflected its tone and narrative. He also concluded that the production of the summary was not a straightforward task and required a considerable exercise of judgment and that the FCA had approached it conscientiously and with success."

An RBS spokesperson said: “The evidence we provided to the Treasury Committee accurately reflected the bank’s position. We are not clear on what basis the allegations are being made, but we would strongly deny the suggestion that we misled the Committee.”

However, a spokesman for the GRG Business Action Group, which represents more than 500 businesses which were put into the unit, said Lewis' statement was "extremely worrying and surely makes immediate publication of the FCA report an urgent priority in the public interest".

He added: "According to Mr Lewis, the report concludes that RBS’s mistreatment of its business customers was “systemic and widespread”. Thousands of people whose jobs, livelihoods and businesses were destroyed by RBS’s rogue bankers already knew this. Parliamentarians and the general public deserve to know it too.

"We were advised last week that we might still have to wait another six months before the full report is published. In view of Mr Lewis’s intervention, that time-frame is surely untenable.”

FCA boss Andrew Bailey faces another grilling in front of the Treasury Select Committee tomorrow, following a number of revelations since his last appearance.

In January, owing to pressure from Morgan, the bank released its now-infamous "Just Hit Budget" memo, which advised staff to let customers "hang themselves" and describing some clients as "basket cases: time consuming but remunerative".

Bailey may also give an update on the “more focused” investigation he revealed back in October. The unit has already faced at least four separate investigations by different bodies.

The summary of the report - which was published four years after it was carried out - found that more than a third of the 5,900 SME customers transferred to GRG during the review period "were not viable at or around the time of transfer and could be expected to face insolvency or administration regardless of RBS’s actions"