The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) refusal to publish a report into Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC’s (LON:RBS) mistreatment of business customers is “shocking and unconscionable”, according to the group representing the affected firms.
The RBS-GRG Business Action Group, which represents more than 500 businesses, said in a statement today the bank did “immense harm” to the British economy.
Andrew Bailey, the chief executive of the FCA, has told Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan that publishing the leaked report into the way RBS's Global Restructuring Group treated its customers would risk revealing confidential information.
In a letter to Morgan, Bailey said making his findings fully public could undermine the FCA’s ability to supervise firms since reviews are conducted on the basis that they will remain private.
“I am very keen that this situation should continue and that it would not be in the public interest to limit the effectiveness of this process,” Bailey said.
He added that publication of information in the report could be a criminal offence under the Financial Services and Marketing Act.
RBS's Global Restructuring Group, which operated from 2005 to 2013, was set up to turn around struggling businesses. But instead of turning them around, businesses claim they were weighed down by debt and fees.
The FCA told the bank to commission a report into these claims, which was leaked to the BBC earlier this month.
Publishing report on RBS scandal is in public interest, says Nicky Morgan
Morgan wrote to Bailey asking for the findings to be made public. She said the leak had added to the case for it to be published in full, rather than just the detailed summary the FCA had previously promised to release.
“The report is now in the hands of an unknown number of third parties. If closure is ever to be brought to this long-running issue, parliament and the public need the account ordered by the regulator...we consider that the public interest in publication in this specific case is overwhelming.” she said.
Bailey will appear before the committee to give evidence on the issue next month. The new committee, which held its first meeting since the general election on Thursday, is expected to use its power to demand the report. So far the committee has not resorted to exercising its rights.
RBS, which is 70% owned by the taxpayer, put aside £400mln last year to pay compensation to the affected companies.
RBS action group 'desperately' wants report made public
But the businesses want to see the report on the bank’s restructuring arm made public.
“Tens of thousands of people whose jobs, businesses or livelihoods were destroyed by RBS desperately want this report published,” RBS-GRG said in a statement.
“Our elected MPs want this report published. The only person who doesn't want this report published, it seems, is Andrew Bailey.”
The action group continued: “Mr Bailey's job is to protect the public from financial malpractice. If he finds it distasteful to share his organisation's findings with the public, he should step aside.
“We have no confidence in the FCA's promise to publish a summary of the report. It already published a summary in November 2016 which we now know was woefully inadequate. We want to see the report in full - no more excuses.”