Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS boss Ross McEwan said to be on shortlist to become CEO of Australia's largest bank

RBS boss Ross McEwan would be leaving one troubled bank for another if he was appointed chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Ross McEwan
Ross McEwan has been tackling ongoing legacy issues at RBS

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (LON:RBS) chief executive Ross McEwan is reportedly among the potential candidates to take the helm of Australia’s largest bank.

The New Zealander is on a shortlist to become the chief executive of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where is previously served as a director of the lender’s retail banking division, the Financial Times reported.  

He was tipped to step into the role in 2011 but the Australian bank appointed Ian Narev as its chief executive instead.  Narev is leaving in June 2018 amid allegations the bank breached money laundering laws between 2012 and 2015.

McEwan, who replaced Stephen Hester as chief executive of RBS in 2013, would be leaving one troubled lender for another.

RBS remains more than 70% owned by the government following its bailout during the height of the 2009-09 financial crisis as it continues to be weighed down by legacy issues.

The issues include the mis-selling of ‘toxic’ residential mortgage-backed securities in the US, a lawsuit with investors over its 2008 rights issue and an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) into its compliance with monetary laundering rules.

Nicky Morgan calls for publication of FCA report on RBS's restructuring arm

Last night it also emerged that Nicky Morgan, the chair of the Treasury Select Committee, has demanded the FCA to publish a leaked report into the treatment of customers by the bank’s Global Restructuring Group (GRG.

The report leaked to the BBC last month found that struggling firms who entered RBS’s restructuring arm were mistreated, including being asked to pay  inappropriate interest charges or fees.

It found that more than 12,000 companies transferred into GRG between 2007 and 2012 had were unlikely to emerge from their financial troubles.

More than 12,000 companies were transferred into GRG, which was introduced as an expert service that would help to turn around a business, between 2007 and 2012.  RBS has been accused of purposely pushing small businesses into financial hardship so they could be put into the GRG.

The bank has denied the claims.

Still waiting for answers

The FCA is yet to publish the report, first commissioned nearly four years ago, despite telling the Treasury Select Committee in November 2016 that it would do so.

"Nearly a year later, and nearly four years since the report was commissioned, we are still waiting for answers," Morgan said in a letter to Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the City watchdog.

 “The report itself is now in the hands of an unknown number of third parties. The FCA now has no control over the timing or content of further public disclosures from it.

“The balance has tipped firmly in favour of full publication. I have written to Mr Bailey to urge him to secure the approval of RBS to do so, without delay.”

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.”

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