State-backed bank RBS has today responded to a report by Lawrence Tomlinson, which alleged that the bank's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) was systematically defrauding small business customers.
Clifford Chance was appointed to investigate the claims made, and RBS state that the investigation has "concluded that there was no evidence to support this damaging and serious allegation."
Known as the Tomlinson Report, Clifford Chance investigated claims that the GRG was culpable of "systematic and institutional" behaviour, and artificially distressing what were viable businesses, and putting them "on a journey towards administration, receivership and liquidation."
Clifford Chance do state that some customers "complained that they experienced insensitive, rude or aggressive behaviour", but that "evidence on the files did not allow us to reach a conclusion as to customers' concerns about their interactions with the bank during the process or the behaviour of any individual at the bank."
The investigation involved the review of written documents, and not interactions in meetings or over the telephone, and as such Clifford Chance were "unable to verify such allegations about behaviour". A number of complainants commented "that they felt pricing of restructured facilities lacked transparency", said Clifford Chance.
RBS CEO Ross McEwan said that the trust customers have in RBS "was put at risk" by Tomlinson's allegation.
This allegation had a profound effect on the bank and on the work of a team that successfully turns round the vast majority of businesses that it works with. We could not let this allegation hang over us. That's why we acted quickly to appoint Clifford Chance to get to the truth of this claim. We are determined to earn back the trust of our customers.