‘Disgraceful’ lack of progress by RBS over GRG group restructuring scandal
The Times, 31.07.2017
By James Hurley
Business owners affected by Royal Bank of Scotland’s restructuring scandal have expressed frustration at what they say is a lack of progress in the lender’s compensation scheme.
RBS has paid millions in “automatic” refunds of fees it wrongfully charged, but the bank has taken longer than expected to get its complaints and appeals process off the ground.
Only one case has been referred to Sir William Blackburne, the former High Court judge who is providing independent oversight of the redress scheme for small and medium-sized companies that suffered at the hands of the bank’s Global Restructuring Group.
Lord Cromwell, of the all-party parliamentary group on fair business banking, said that affected companies and MPs had “become angry and frustrated at the lack of progress”.
RBS has fared better at refunding certain fees that it had wrongly charged companies in the GRG, with more than £100 million shared among 3,452 customers, representing 96 per cent of the fees due to be returned.
The Financial Conduct Authority commissioned a review of the GRG in 2014 after allegations were made about the unit’s treatment of business customers. In November, the regulator said that the review had revealed a range of poor conduct and that some elements of RBS’s “inappropriate treatment of customers should also be considered systematic”.
Since the redress process was announced eight months ago, the lender has received 794 “eligible” complaints. The bank has issued seven “outcome” letters of its decisions on these cases, with five complaints closed and one who has asked to be referred to Sir William. RBS is expecting the process to speed up now that the fee refund element is all but complete, as this will release staff to support the review of complaints. The bank ran a pilot version of the complaints scheme in April and made changes as a result.
Andrew Gibbs, an architect who has submitted a claim about alleged damage caused to his business in Norwich by the GRG, said: “The complete lack of progress is disgraceful.” He said complainants had recently received an update on their cases that contained few details and “doesn’t even make sense”.
An RBS spokesman declined to comment.
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