RBS denies forcing firms to collapse

Ross McEwan. Picture: Comp

Ross McEwan. Picture: Comp

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RBS chief executive Ross McEwan has denied that the state-backed lender made a “systematic” effort to profit from customers in financial distress.

Mr McEwan said the bank was co-operating with regulators at the Financial Conduct Authority to set up an investigation, though he said it had received no evidence to support such a claim – but that it had done “serious damage” to RBS’s reputation.

He was speaking as it emerged that the bank may face a probe by the Serious Fraud Office over claims it defrauded firms by forcing them out of business.

RBS, which is 80 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said it would co-operate with any investigation by the FCA or the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulatory Authority.

The announcement came a day after Bank of England governor Mark Carney told MPs the allegations were “deeply troubling and extremely serious” and ought to be pursued “to the fullest extent of the law”.

It was claimed earlier this week RBS drove firms to collapse to buy back their assets at rock-bottom prices.