A Dispatches undercover investigation at The Financial Ombudsman Service - found that staff with inadequate training or understanding of financial products are judging cases, with some having reached decisions in favour of the banks, without properly reading case files. This could mean hundreds of thousands of cases may need to be looked at again. NEARLY half a million PPI claims could have been wrongly rejected by the Financial Ombudsman Service. - 12th March 2018 at 8pm Channel 4 - Dispatches Undercover: Who’s Policing Your Bank?
Santander chief still earns £1.8m for role with toxic RBS unit, despite quitting controversial job three years ago - Santander's chief executive is being paid £1.8million a year for a job which oversaw a toxic unit at Royal Bank of Scotland – despite leaving the role four years ago he gets the seven-figure sum to compensate him for bonuses which he gave up when he jumped ship from RBS. He joined RBS in 2009 as head of risk and restructuring. One part of the role was to oversee the Global Restructuring Group, which loaded struggling firms up with toxic fees. The scandal at GRG ran until 2013. The revelation will spark fury because the money relates to his time as head of risk and restructuring at RBS, a role in which he was responsible for overseeing its notorious Global Restructuring Group. He was paid £4.7million for running the bank last year according to its annual report. But the small print reveals he was also given £1.8million as a buy-out for RBS bonus awards which he lost when he was poached. It is the third such payment handed to him - meaning he has picked up £5.4million from the deal so far. It is understood he will receive one more £1.8million payment this year. Because the money is being paid by Santander, it is not subject to the clawback rules which would have applied at RBS – meaning it is not possible to recover the cash should doubts emerge about his conduct while working there. The married father of two, who lives on a farm in rural Kent, has faced questions since he was blamed in Parliament for failings at the GRG. A Santander spokesman said his: ‘ pay and bonus are agreed by our parent Santander Group and the Santander UK remuneration committee and board, based on performance which was evaluated as outstanding this year. The buyout is a contractual entitlement that was agreed when he was appointed to Santander UK.’ - 5th March 2018 - Mail Money
IBAS Comment: He got out of RBS at a very convenient time for him and at a time when GRG’s failings were being heavily publicized. Unfortunately, the primary instigators of the actions of the RBS/NatWest/GRG UK business plunderings are still at large (and some still not identified) but no doubt earning well. Santander, the UK arm of the Spanish finance giant, is trying to position itself as ‘the bank of choice for UK companies’. Its UK boss paid £4.5million last year, and its head of commercial banking held key roles at RBS at a time when it was found by an official report to have plundered small firms for fees. The irony of their position and others who remained at the bank (when viewed against the many GRG victims now seeking retribution or restitution) for overseeing what was a cynical plundering by RBS GRG of UK Businesses beggars belief. Of course, Santander and RBS do have a history of closeness and connected business dealings. GRG victims have not been so lucky and now face a bank still in denial with a regulator slowing down any action to prosecute those who were responsible for GRG’s deliberate and concerted actions against UK Businesses - Eddy Weatherill – IBAS
Lloyds TSB ‘bent own auditor rules’ - Bank shifted £800,000 out of PWC accounts, court documents claim. Lloyds TSB agreed to “remove” £800,000 of fees due to be paid to PWC from its 2008 accounts in order to avoid breaching internal rules governing auditor independence, according to documents revealed in a High Court battle. The bank indicated that it would move fees due for “independent business reviews” of troubled companies conducted by PWC to a previous accounting period so that it could keep awarding the accountancy firm lucrative work without breaching a £2 million limit imposed by Lloyds’ audit committee, internal emails suggest. - 8th March 2018 - The Times
IBAS Comment: Auditor Independence or rather the alleged lack of it and auditor’s ethical conflicts are currently in the spotlight following Carillion’s spectacular failure in the construction industry and an immediate ‘fall-out’ for the many companies who lost money sub contracting to Carillion and who may well go bust themselves. However, the cases of alleged lack of auditor’s independence and unethical actions and standards (as far as any reasonable persons would think) do start to mount and the ‘smell’ of money corruption pervades the atmosphere, growing year on year - although it still appears the regulators have yet to see it, hear it, smell it, or speak and do something about it. - Eddy Weatherill - IBAS
RBS makes first profit in a decade - Ceo interviewed and questioned very thoroughly on GRG Report - 23rd February 2018 - Channel 4 News – Business Editor
IBAS Comment: RBS published their profit in the same week as the GRG Report was finally published by the Treasury Select Committee. It is obvious that the GRG Report was ‘held back' by the FCA - I cannot see any other explanation than that was to assist the bank. The GRG Report made “tough reading” for the RBS ceo. He says: "We just didn't look after them well enough" - Try, you didn’t look after them at all - that would be much more accurate. The great number of businesses thrown into chaos and destruction by RBS and NatWest using the GRG Unit is totally inexcusable. The Report now shows that RBS/GRG ‘rip off’ tactics were neither ‘turnaround’ nor TCF but an organized bank strategy which would destroy thousands of businesses (now well documented) who were ‘herded’, lied to and cruelly sent to business ‘hell’ for the bank to exploit for profit and finally destroy (in many cases) all for fat profits and bonuses (yes, they were paid bonuses as well). Some of those targeted businesses had merely complained about their business managers.
Whilst the RBS ceo may not be personally responsible for those decisions - others were formulating those decisions and coordinating a systematic financial exploitation of UK Businesses in a targeted, sustained, mass looting and asset theft. The individuals responsible for those crimes against UK Businesses should now be held fully accountable. The definition of theft is: ‘A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it’.
It appears logical to many that the next actions against the RBS/NatWest GRG perpetrators (who thanks to the FCA have had another two years grace, whilst avoiding any responsibility) is that they face criminal prosecution/s. This debacle has a much wider value than the HBOS Reading fraud and has affected a great many more people and businesses - So, let’s see the RBS/NatWest GRG perpetrators ‘cut from the herd’ named and shamed and then properly dealt with - as until they are, this debacle will not be over. - 25th February 2018 - Eddy Weatherill - IBAS
See what RBS were saying in 2014 and also what the GRG whistleblower said - Among other revelations, the whistle blower claims:
"– GRG operatives were told to intercept payments from businesses and transfer the money instead to RBS to reduce the size of the businesses’ loans.
– GRG had complete control over customers’ accounts and weren’t answerable to any other part of the bank.
– GRG could oversee Natwest, RBS and Coutts customers, which technically they weren’t supposed to do, but which staff did anyway."
(IBAS Comment: On the 'other revelations'' above - we would endorse all of those from our experiences of NatWest and RBS GRG 'case files')
An RBS spokesperson said: “GRG successfully turns around the vast majority of businesses it works with." - That was completely untruthful - it was a minority!
(IBAS Comment: *the facts prove that RBS comment was a further completely untruthful 'smokescreen' as the Report published by the TSC on 20th February 2018 shows)
RBS reports first profit in 10 years - Royal Bank of Scotland has returned to profit for the first time in a decade whilst still facing a potentially massive fine.
The Treasury had to step in to bail RBS out for £45bn. In 2013, a new ceo was appointed and he has turned the bank away from investment banking and towards UK High Street banking. At 269p, the RBS share price is still a long way below the 502p a share the government would need to break even on the billions of pounds it spent bailing out the bank a decade ago. "We have been constantly hit with the sins of the past with conduct and litigation issues and I've been heavily restructuring the business to bring it back to the UK," he said. On Tuesday, after months of wrangling, MPs released a report by the financial regulator which said a unit of RBS mistreated thousands of small firms. The Global Restructuring Group (GRG) was marketed as an expert service that could save a business, but according to the report took "inappropriate" action. RBS ceo said the report "did make for really tough reading". "We did not get it right for customers at the time they needed us when their businesses were struggling," he said. "We just didn't look after them well enough".- 23rd February 2018 - BBC Business News
Who presided over the RBS scandal? - FCA must find a way to bring to book those who orchestrated a systematic and endemic culture of screwing customers. The report for the Financial Conduct Authority from the specialist agency Promontory is commendably clear that accountability should go to the top. The failings “were not the one-off errors of staff”. Rather, GRG and RBS failed “to put in place the appropriate governance and oversight procedures”. GRG management “was aware (or should have been aware) of these issues”. There was “an intentional and co-ordinated strategy” to focus on GRG’s commercial objectives and to place “inadequate weight” on the interests of customers. The Promontory report doesn’t point fingers at senior individuals, since that is the FCA’s job. The regulator, which seems to have accepted the basic veracity of the report, must now complete its “focused” investigation as speedily as possible. - 21st February 2018 - The Guardian
IBAS Comment: At last some common sense. Well done Nicky Morgan and her committee. The TSC have seen for themselves just how disgraceful RBS/GRG conduct was and purely for profits. Numerous businesses have been ripped off - their owners and directors commercially and then personally financially destroyed (whilst feeling completely impotent) and purely because of profiteering and a rogue unit's 'secret agenda' - whilst the 'regulators' (and that includes the FOS who should have seen what was going on from the NatWest/RBS cases sent to them) sat firmly on their hands - another PPI type rip off finally exposed for what it was! Now - that mess needs clearing up. - 20th February 2018
Treasury Committee publishes RBS-GRG report
20 February 2018
The Treasury Committee set the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the deadline of 16 February to publish the skilled persons’ report (Section 166) into RBS’ treatment of small business customers in its Global Restructuring Group (GRG).
RBS Group's treatment of SME customers referred to the Global Restructuring Group (PDF 20.67 MB)
If they were unable to meet this deadline, the Committee ordered the FCA to send the report to the Committee by the same date. The FCA did not publish the report on 16 February, so therefore sent it to the Committee.
The Committee has today agreed to publish the final, un redacted report immediately.
Commenting on the publication, Mrs Morgan said:
"The findings in the report are disgraceful. The overarching priority at all levels of GRG was not the health and strength of customers, but the generation of income for RBS, through made-up fees, high interest rates, and the acquisition of equity and property.
The Committee has not taken the decision to publish lightly. Normally, reports prepared under section 166 are confidential, but there is overwhelming public interest in bringing transparency to what happened at GRG, given the earlier leak of the report, and in ensuring that everyone can see, and know that they are seeing, an authentic and verified copy of Promontory’s original report.
We have today published the terms of reference for our inquiry into SME finance. We’ll examine what must change to prevent what occurred at GRG from ever happening again, and how to restore confidence among SME's in banks as a source of finance. I encourage all those with views to submit evidence.
As well as continuing to monitor the FCA’s further investigation into GRG, we’ll keep a close eye on RBS’ Complaints Process to determine whether it is providing the fair and reasonable compensation that has been promised to mistreated customers. Any person referred to in the report is invited to make any observations to the Committee." - 20th February 2018 - TSC
MP's use parliamentary privilege to publish report on 'disgraceful' RBS unit - The Treasury Committee cites "overwhelming public interest" in releasing the full report on the bank's treatment of small firms. MP's have taken the unusual step of using parliamentary privilege to publish a regulator's full report on Royal Bank of Scotland's controversial Global Restructuring Group (GRG).The Treasury Select Committee had demanded the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) publish, or hand over, the un redacted version by Friday last week. Only a limited summary had previously been disclosed. While the watchdog did comply, it still refused to publish the whole document it had commissioned, continuing to cite a lack of legal consents.The chair of the powerful committee, Nicky Morgan MP, confirmed on Tuesday that it had unanimously agreed to publish the document given "overwhelming" public interest.She described the findings as"disgraceful".- 20th February 2018 - Sky News
'Secret' report into RBS published - After months of wrangling, MP's have released a report by the financial regulator which said a unit of RBS mistreated thousands of small firms. The Global Restructuring Group (GRG) was marketed as an expert service that could save a business, but according to the report took "inappropriate" action. Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury Committee, said the findings in the report were "disgraceful". RBS said it was "deeply sorry" for its treatment of businesses in the GRG. The contents of the report were first disclosed by the BBC in August last year. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had refused to publish the report, blaming legal reasons, but after a meeting, MP's on the Treasury Committee voted to publish it. Ms Morgan said MP's had not taken the decision to publish lightly, as normally such reports are confidential. However, she said there was an "overwhelming" public interest in its publication. "The findings in the report are disgraceful. The overarching priority at all levels of GRG was not the health and strength of customers, but the generation of income for RBS, through made-up fees, high interest rates, and the acquisition of equity and property," she said. The GRG operated from 2005 to 2013 and at its peak handled 16,000 companies. Companies were referred to it when they skipped a loan repayment or suffered a significant drop in sales or profits.- 20th February 2018 - BBC Business News
See also: RUTH SUNDERLAND: At last, after three years, the truth RBS tried to hide - but 'Maxwellisation' may hinder justice for GRG victims
City watchdog hands full report on RBS turnaround unit to MP's - MP's on the Treasury Committee will decide on Tuesday if they are to release the un redacted version using parliamentary privilege. Andrew Bailey's letter to Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan said: "I do want to make it clear that it is not our intention to frustrate or impede the work of the committee, quite the reverse in fact, and with that in mind we are providing the report as required.”
While he has previously pleaded the full report should not be placed in the pubic domain - at least not yet - the committee is to meet on Tuesday to decide its next move. Mrs Morgan said: "At that meeting, I will be asking members to agree to publish the final, un redacted report under parliamentary privilege as soon as possible." - 16th February 2018 - Sky News Business
IBAS Comment: Having now seen the Full Report, we understand the FCA's desire to withold it until 'forced' to release it.
Now it's been documented by Promontory and 'signed off' by Callum McCarthy, maybe, the FCA and Government will take this matter more seriously. RBS NatWest GRG deceptions were carried on for far too long, without intervention or any actions by the regulator, despite the lack of any TCF by GRG (as has now been documented by Promontory). The FOS has not proved capable of business banking investigations and the FOS further failure in this debacle may also be due to the numbers of ex bank employees who also have bank pensions with bank allegiances within the FOS 'system'. UK businesses deserve better and now require an Independent Tribunal not the FOS. - 18th February 2018 - Eddy Weatherill - IBAS
See: 3 Years On RBS GRG - Where Are They Now?
Back in that sunny summer of 2014, there was some really strong live sport on for financial journalists. It was the infamous appearance, on Tuesday 17th June, of Derek Sach and Chris Sullivan at the Treasury Select Committee (TSC). (Q526 to Q656 on RBS/GRG)
Chris Sullivan helped to identify which businesses were ripe for harvest:- It will be formed by a combination of the relationship manager who will see an event, some deterioration in business performance, a particular contract that is lost, excessive use of overdraft, excessive limits, behaviour that is generally— [interruption]
It would be very easy to blame the senior managers, but the culture is carried out by the boots on the ground. In fact, another bank, HBOS, took the decidedly cowardly option of blaming “bad apples” / “boots on the ground” on the Reading Six fiasco which resulted in criminal convictions and porridge for their staff. - P.C. Dettmann - Z Review - 9th August 2017
The Overall Business Principles 1-11 published by the FSA Handbook (as excerpt shown below) stated:
The FSA have 11 Principles which are general statements of the main regulatory obligations that apply to every authorised firm. The Principles set out in simple terms the high level standards that all firms must meet.
If your firm contravenes one or more of the Principles, it could face enforcement action, this could, for example, result in your firmʼs authorisation being removed.
It is vital that you are aware of these Principles and ensure your firm implements them and continually reviews that these standards are being maintained.
The FSA has a wide range of powers at its disposal to enforce adherence to the principles including withdrawal of approval for regulated businesses, prohibition of individuals, interventions, fines, public censures and private warnings.
FSA Principles of Business
1. Integrity - A firm must conduct its business with integrity.
2. Skill, care and diligence - A firm must conduct its business with due skill, care and diligence.
3. Management and control - A firm must take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems.
4. Financial prudence - A firm must maintain adequate financial resources.
5. Market conduct - A firm must observe proper standards of market conduct.
6. Customersʼ interests - A firm must pay due regard to the interests of its customers and treat them fairly.
7. Communications with clients - A firm must pay due regard to the information needs of its clients and communicate information to them in a way which is clear, fair and not misleading.
8.Conflicts of interest - A firm must manage conflicts of interest fairly, both between itself and its customers and between a customer and another client.
9. Customers: relationships of trust - A firm must take reasonable care to ensure the suitability of its advice and discretionary decisions for any customer who is entitled to rely upon its judgment.
10. Clientsʼ assets - A firm must arrange adequate protection for clientsʼassets when it is responsible for them.
11. Relations with regulators - A firm must deal with its regulators in an open and co-operative way and must disclose to the FSA anything relating to the firm of which the FSA would reasonably expect notice.
Treating Customers Fairly - The way forward as outlined in the FSA 26.03.09 speech
The FCA ʻtook overʼ Banking Regulation in 2012 from the FSA and the FSA Principles were then adopted by the FCA - but where is the evidence of RBS Treating Customers Fairly now - where is the evidence of the Conduct result from the “more intrusive supervision on conduct issues, and a more cohesive assessment of conduct issues and risks to fair treatment of customers posed by the firm.” - with regards RBS and GRG?
There is no doubt in our mind that Britain’s banks have made profit from distress or that the issues raised by GRG cases (along with the issues of SWAPS and PPI compensations) evidence a systematic plundering of UK business by the UK Banking Sector.
RBS misinformation and denial of information to it’s business customers has also been an ongoing and repetitive issue which IBAS has observed in case files since the launch of RBS GRG.
There is no doubt from the many case files seen over time that GRG was used (and that may well be evidenced in the full report when it is published) to ‘push ‘ vulnerable businesses ‘over the edge’ and that GRG was deliberately levying excessive fees and additional ‘fictional’ costs (which were not justified or properly documented) onto businesses whilst the customer was also repeatedly deceived by RBS and GRG staff into believing that they were going to be ‘saved’ by GRG.
The word ʻunregulatedʼ appears to be used as an excuse by the FCA to continue doing nothing for UK Businesses - when they are already aware that UK Businesses have been faced with ʻmafia typeʼ business practices and profiteering which go back to 1992 when GRG was formed and that other banks (seeing the success of GRG on increased profits for RBS) have copied and adopted the RBS GRG methods.
Wake up - enough of the time wasting - act now - before the FCA gathers even more contagion from the RBS GRG deceptions - 15th February 2018 - Eddy Weatherill - IBAS
Secret emails implicate senior managers at RBS's controversial Global Restructuring Group
• Senior GRG managers were at the heart of a plan to plunder small firms for cash
• A release of emails show 'an undue focus by management on fee generation'
An official report into RBS's Global Restructuring Group found emails that put senior managers at the heart of a plan to plunder small firms for cash.
The FCA report's authors, financial research firm Promontory, said they made a decision early on in their review to look at appraisals of staff.
'This followed the release of various emails suggesting an undue focus by management on fee generation early in the relevant period,' the full unpublished report says.
An official report into RBS's Global Restructuring Group found emails that put senior managers at the heart of a plan to plunder small firms for cash.
The finding that priority was being given to squeezing fees out of customers, who they should have been helping back to financial health was included in a previous summary of the report.
But, in a highly significant omission, separate conclusions that management knew or should have known of the issue were excised from the published FCA summary.
The full Promontory dossier contains copious detail on reports produced for the GRG board.
These 'board packs' had a greater focus on financial considerations than on 'returning customers to satisfactory' – in other words, they paid more attention to making money for the bank than on saving firms. - 11th February 2018 This is Money News
'Totally immoral':Former GRG boss raked in thousands in consultancy fees since leaving taxpayer backed RBS
• left RBS in 2015 and has been advising a private equity firm
• He was the mastermind behind GRG's handling of small and medium firms
• GRG plundered small firms for cash - an FCA investigation is ongoing
The former boss of RBS's notorious Global Restructuring Group has raked in hundreds of thousands of pounds in consultancy fees since leaving the taxpayer-backed bank.
He left RBS in 2015 and has been advising a private equity firm on its investments. He books his advice fees through a personal service company – and its accounts show it now has £323,430 in cash at the bank.
He was the mastermind behind the bank's handling of small and medium firms within the GRG unit, from which few emerged.
A report into its activities by City regulators has found that instead of nursing firms back to health, RBS bankers focused on plundering them for fees.
The FCA had previously published only a short summary, which omits the findings that management knew or should have known about the widespread mistreatment of clients.
FCA chief said last month he would publish the report once the FCA had finished its investigation and given those criticized a chance to respond.
Its publication will turn up the heat on former RBS/GRG bosses.
The FCA has said its investigation is almost complete and a decision on whether to take action could be announced within weeks. - 11th February 2018 This is Money News
FCA given deadline to publish RBS report - RBS's restructuring arm is accused of intentionally pushing small businesses towards failure to pick up their assets cheaply. The City watchdog has been given a deadline to publish its report into RBS's controversial Global Restructuring Group.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been criticized for delaying the release of the report, which looks into allegations that the bank - still more than 70% taxpayer owned - mistreated small business customers. Only a summary has been published so far, although the full version has been leaked to the media and some MP's.
Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan has called on the FCA chief executive, to publish the report or send a full copy to the committee by 16 February. Mrs Morgan said: "A version of the report is in the hands of third parties, it has been selectively reported by the media, and it may enter the public domain at any time.
"The FCA has lost control over the timing or content of further public disclosures from it. "For these reasons, the committee has requested that the FCA publish the final definitive version of the report, or send it to the committee, by Friday 16 February.
The FCA said publishing the report without the legal checks sets a worrying precedent and asked MP's not to do so using their parliamentary privilege.
An interim summary of the review, published by the FCA, found 92% of potentially viable businesses that went into GRG had "experienced some inappropriate actions".
The FCA is also conducting a further investigation into RBS, which the FCA described as "well advanced" and weeks away from a conclusion. - 7th February 2018 Sky News
Revealed: State-backed RBS's role in collapse of Carillion - The taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) tightened the terms of its funding to the stricken Government contractor Carillion three days before it was forced to call in liquidators. According to a witness statement, RBS informed Carillion last Friday that it wanted the company to pre-fund supplier payments made through the bank, which meant it would need to make those payments two days earlier than cashﬂow forecasts had assumed.
He said this negatively impacted Carillion's liquidity by between £2m and £20m. RBS, he added, insisted that this revised arrangement "would be in place until support from [the Government] had been agreed and that the terms of this support would determine whether other uncommitted facilities with RBS would be withdrawn".
RBS is not the only lender to Carillion singled out in the witness statement. Santander UK, another member of the committee of Carillion's biggest lenders, caused panic among the lending syndicate on 21 December by writing to the construction giant's suppliers notifying them of immediate changes to an Early Payment Facility (EPF) with the bank. "The company relied upon that EPF in order to assist it making payments to its suppliers," the witness said. - 16th January 2018 - Sky News
Carillion was left with just £29m before going bankrupt - Carillion was in talks with the government since October as part of a desperate bid to stave off collapse, according to the chief executive. Keith Cochrane says the construction giant was left with just £29m in cash by the time it went bust on Monday.
Until the last moments, directors still believed a rescue was possible, but banks became more demanding, he said.
The details are included in a document prepared as part of the insolvency process. - 17th January 2018 BBC Business News
Eddy Weatherill says: "2018 - New Year - New Threat to Construction and services. The collapse of Carillion will also mean the collapse of a great number of small business suppliers to Carillion in the construction and service industry sectors, as their business bankers put pressure on them to pay their company debts, created by Carillion's lack of payment and subsequent insolvency. Small businesses/SME's will now be placed under very severe bank pressure/s for payment of bank guarantees/Directors Personal Guarantees and bank mortgages".
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