Top MP says watchdog has "lost control" of RBS report

Catherine Neilan
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The bank has come under fire for its now-defunct GRG unit (Source: Getty)

The Financial Conduct Authority has “lost control” of its report into RBS’ controversial restructuring unit GRG, according to one of parliament's most senior MPs.

On Monday night an individual linked to one of the alleged victims published the full report on his blog, and the document has since been widely viewed.

The 361-page report sheds further light on the bank’s culture and the apparent extent of “widespread inappropriate treatment of firms”.

In several instances, the report claims that an internal memo – known as ‘Just Hit Budget’ – was indicative of a wider attitude, and not restricted to a small number of individuals, as RBS has previously argued.

The report also backs an earlier review by Sir Andrew Large that described GRG as a “profit centre” for the bank, saying the unit’s two objectives – to help turn around struggling firms while also generating income for RBS were at best “uneasy bedfellows”.

The Treasury Select Committee has given the FCA until Friday (16 February) to hand the full report over or else be found in contempt of parliament.

Committee chair Nicky Morgan said: “A version of the report is now in the public domain. The FCA has completely lost control of the publication process."

She added: “The committee will meet when Parliament returns on Tuesday 20 February. At that meeting, I will be asking members to agree to publish the final, unredacted report under parliamentary privilege as soon as possible.”

Morgan has been fighting for the FCA to release the report since last autumn, after it became clear the BBC had a copy, but so far the financial watchdog has published only a summary.

Earlier this month Labour MP Clive Lewis said he had obtained a copy and argued it revealed the previously published summary was a "sanitised" version.

The FCA insists it is legally impossible for it to publish the report without the consent of every potentially identifiable individual. It has also warned the Treasury Select Committee that publication might prejudice future reports.

An RBS spokesperson said: “We are deeply sorry that customers did not receive the experience they should have done while in GRG. The report makes for very difficult reading and some of the language used by our staff in the past was clearly unacceptable.

“The culture, structure and way RBS operates today have all changed fundamentally since the period under review and we have made significant changes to deal with the issues of the past.”

An FCA spokesperson added: "A leaked version of the report does not change the FCA’s obligation to comply with the law in order to get the report published. The FCA wrote to the Treasury Committee last week to set out the next steps we are taking."

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