A YORKSHIRE MP is demanding that the Financial Conduct Authority identifies bankers who mistreated their SME (small-and-medium-sized enterprise) customers in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Kevin Hollinrake, co-chair of the APPG on Fair Business Banking, has denounced as a “whitewash” the FCA’s report into the Royal Bank of Scotland’s global restructuring unit.
He said: “The FCA must publish a full account of its findings including naming those responsible for the shameful mistreatment of thousands of UK SMEs.”
The FCA has attempted to draw a line under a five-year inquiry that saw officials accused of failing to take action against poor practices at RBS’s controversial restructuring division.
The Global Restructuring Group (GRG), which was part of RBS, was supposed to help small businesses after the financial crisis in 2008. Critics said that the unit ruined thousands of livelihoods through allegedly asset-stripping to shore up the bank’s balance sheet.
Previously, the FCA has said it was unable to investigate the GRG because its work was outside the regulator’s remit. But a final report said new rules mean that, in future, similar situations would fall under its regulation.
However, the 78-page report failed to say whether the FCA would have been able to bring a successful case against the GRG managers, even with the new powers.
Mr Hollinrake said that the report was supposed to consider the “root causes” of the problems and to see if senior management at RBS knew about the controversy.
He added: “They have manifestly failed to do this.”
The Federation of Small Businesses also attacked the report, saying it “failed to provide consolation to former GRG customers who lost everything”.
An FCA spokesperson said: “We disagree and stand by the contents of the report.”
Sir Howard Davies, chairman of RBS, welcomed the report.
He said: “The bank has acknowledged that some SME customers did not receive the treatment they should have done while in GRG during the relevant period and has apologised. The way the bank deals with business customers in financial difficulty today is fundamentally different to the aftermath of the financial crisis, during what was a hugely challenging time for the bank, its customers and the wider economy.”