The very questionable activities of Royal Bank of Scotland and its former blue-eyed boy in Ireland, Ulster Bank have again surfaced this month. RBS has decided to own-up to the fact that it gave incorrect evidence to the UK Government’s RBS Investigation. Two senior RBS executives mislead the Treasury Committee in denying that its Global Recovery Group Division was a Profit Centre. In other words its real mandate was to turn a short-term profit at the expense of Distressed Borrowers. Ulster Bank has a GRG division with a similar highly questionable mandate.
The Lawrence Tomlinson Report, ‘Banks’ Lending Practices: Treatment of Businesses in distress’ in November 2013 was commissioned when David Cameron to his credit nominated the successful Yorkshire business figure and UK Entrepreneur-in-residence to independently report to the UK Treasury Select Committee, House of Commons on activities of RBS.
Two days after the Tomlinson Report was presented, the pressure was mounting on RBS. *The Financial Times revealed that the Serious Fraud Office was considering an investigation into that Bank’s alleged abuses. This is now a fully-fledged criminal probe, under which the British SFO’s principal intelligence officer, Colin Croucher, is examining hundreds of claims. On Friday 29 November 2013 the UK Financial Conduct Authority said it was launching a ‘skilled persons report’ into the alleged malpractice, under section 166 of the UK Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) 2000.
Two months later, in January 2014, the UK FCA declared the probe was being outsourced to the Washington DC-headquartered Promontory Financial Group – a firm which, disturbingly, is reported as having a history of ‘whitewashing’ financial crimes on behalf of regulators and banks – and the mid-tier accountancy firm, Mazars. However, unlike most section 166 probes, control of this particular investigation will remain with the FCA and not with the institution being investigated. The biggest consistent thorn in the bank’s side was Ulster Bank. Ulster Bank abandoned Presbyterian probity and engaged in some extraordinarily cavalier financial debauchery. It opened the lending taps and lent reckless billions into Ireland’s stretched property bubble as part of its insane Journey2One strategy . And the losses on those loans keep washing in year after year. For 2013, Ulster Bank declared losses of over £ 1.5 billion, up from £ 1 billion in 2012. Presenting the 2012 results, New Jersey -born finance director Bruce Van Saun said, ‘We also have been losing our shirt in Ireland.’ And RBS will keep losing it for some years to come and is currently looking at ways of ridding itself of the Ulster operations in the Republic.
**Last November, following the publication of a short/ redacted ver-sion of the Tomlinson Report, the Department of Finance said it was not aware of any allegations of Ulster Bank forcing businesses to de-fault so that it could profit from the assets. Nor was there any investi-gation planned in this area. In the events of allegations coming to light, it would be up to the Central Bank to investigate as part of its regulatory functions, a spokesman said.
*Extracted from:Fraser, Ian (2014-06-05). Shredded: Inside RBS: The Bank that Broke Britain