The chair of the UK government’s Treasury Select Committee has urged the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to publish its report into how RBS treats its business customers following a leak of its contents to the BBC.
Nicky Morgan, a prominent and outspoken anti-Brexit Tory MP, said that the report into RBS’s controversial restructuring arm Global Restructuring Group (GRG) “is now in the hands of an unknown number of third parties”, leaving the FCA with no control over either “the timing or content” of further public disclosures from it.
The leaked report is said to claim that “inappropriate action” by GRG was claimed by an astonishing 92% of its customers, including rises in interest charged or fees being imposed unfairly. It has been claimed that only 10% of customers of GRG returned to RBS after their time with the controversial division.
This has led to lawyers for small businesses who were customers of GRG to support Morgan’s demand for publication.
Morgan (pictured left) wrote to FCA head Andrew Bailey to demand that, as well as ensuring no further delay in publication of the report, the watchdog conduct its own investigation into who leaked the document.
“The balance has tipped in favour of full publication,” said Morgan. “I have written to Mr Bailey to urge him to secure the approval of RBS to do so, without delay,” adding “this would not be the first instance of leaking from the FCA, but lessons must be learned to ensure it is the last.”
An FCA spokesperson said: “We have received the TSC’s letter and will respond in due course. We have already initiated a leak inquiry into the disclosure of the s166 report on RBS GRG to the BBC, and we have asked the other parties who had access to the report, namely RBS and Promontory, to do the same.
“If the Treasury Select Committee or the BBC have evidence that the document was leaked by the FCA, we encourage them to share that with us.”
Four years since report was commissioned
The report was originally commissioned four years ago. GRG was supposed to aid business customers, usually small business owners, that were already facing hardship, but has been accused of pushing these customers into greater difficulties for its own ends, although the bank has rejected these allegations as unfounded.
In November 2016 RBS said that it had set aside £400m specifically to deal with claims arising from GRG activities.
The FCA has said that it will respond to Morgan’s letter “in due course”.