‘Culture of bullying’ claim investigated by Royal Bank of Scotland

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Royal Bank of Scotland has launched an investigation into bullying following claims from a whistleblower that ­harassment is rife at the state-backed lender.

Staff are subjected to persistent intimidation, threats and humiliation amid a “culture of bullying”, according to private emails seen by the Press Association.

Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group

Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group

The allegations are linked to the troubled Amethyst project, which has become the focus of a wide-ranging investigation by RBS, and involve two senior managers. It is claimed that workers on the project faced attacks based on personal intimidation and others in which they were forced to change the outcomes of cases to manipulate figures sent to the Financial Conduct Authority.

One source at the bank with direct knowledge of the matter said: “There is a persistent and normally deliberate misuse of power or position to intimidate, humiliate or undermine.

“It is all mentally, intimidation, manipulating you, by saying if you don’t do this, you will lose your job. Do it our way, even if it is wrong, as we are in charge, and do as you are told.

“Nothing has yet been done about the individuals. This is then interlinked with the overall bullying culture within the project and this is to do within the work itself.”

The whistleblower, who has reported the abuse to chief executive Ross McEwan and his successor in the role, Alison Rose, has also cast doubt on the inquiry being carried out by RBS, which he claimed is not independent.

The Amethyst project was set up to carry out complex investment reviews of ISAs, funds, bonds, pensions and tax planning products.

“Upper management bullied people into making decisions that they know are incorrect. If you don’t do exactly as told, even when you know it is wrong, they will just get rid of you, and have done so,” the source added.

The whistleblower has also offered to write a report into the project’s overall failings, but has been rebuffed by RBS.

An RBS spokesman said: “RBS takes whistleblowing very seriously. The bank was made aware of a series of allegations in July, of which this is one, and is investigating them thoroughly. No conclusions have been reached at this stage but the appropriate action will be taken if any of the allegations are substantiated.”

The damning revelations come after PA revealed the bank is investigating allegations of cronyism after a whistleblower claimed the lender appointed a man to a top role on the basis that he is the friend of a senior staff member.

RBS was also exposed for paying contractors on the project £400 a day to stuff envelopes, more typically a minimum wage-level role.