The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)'s head Andrew Bailey today said it will not publish a report on the Royal Bank of Scotland global restructuring group (RBS GRG) scandal by next week, as demanded by Nicky Morgan, the head of the influential Treasury Select Committee (TSC), but will share a copy with the committee.
The FCA's board met today to discuss the report, but will decline to publish it until it has obtained the consent of some of the unnamed individuals mentioned in the report. If even one individual refuses consent the entire report could potentially be held back.
Morgan said: “I am pleased to see that the FCA is trying to get the report agreed for publication or handed to the committee to meet its deadline.”
The report, which remains unpublished, details the extraordinary behaviour of bankers within the RBS GRG unit, which is accused of hiking fees to make businesses collapse and make a greater profit for the bank. One staff memo published last month showed a member of staff telling colleagues to "let customers hang themselves".
The FCA will provide a copy to the committee by 16 February, if Morgan confirms she has requested this. The TSC will then be able to publish the report under parliamentary privilege if its members choose to do so. The next hearing of the TSC is due on 20 February.
However, the FCA warned Morgan to "consider carefully the precedent" of publishing the report using parliamentary privilege, owing to concerns it could stop people from being as forthcoming in future investigations.
On Wednesday Morgan said the report must either be published in full or handed over to the committee by 16 February, saying that the four-year wait since the review was commissioned is "unreasonable".
RBS bosses have indicated it will not fight the publication of the report on its now-defunct global restructuring group (GRG), which is accused of systematic abuse of small businesses referred to it for help in turning around after the financial crisis.
"The issue here now concerns persons other than RBS or Promontory," Bailey said in the letter to Morgan, referring to the bank and the organisation which carried out the report.
It is therefore "highly unlikely" the FCA will publish before 16 February. The FCA has not yet written to the individuals concerned, Bailey said.