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RBS CEO accused of withholding evidence of criminal activity

The Treasury Committee has accused Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of RBS, of withholding information relating to allegations of criminal activity within the bank.

Rozi Jones
|
14th September 2018
RBS
"The Committee is concerned by the pattern of defensiveness, and a failure to acknowledge mistakes, demonstrated by RBS throughout its handling of the GRG affair. "

The Treasury Committee has accused Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of RBS, of withholding information relating to allegations of criminal activity within the bank.

When asked in January whether there had been any criminal activity in the bank, McEwan replied: "Not that we have seen or had reported, and certainly none that the police or the Serious Fraud Office are looking at, to our knowledge."

However a Times article stated that RBS had alerted Police Scotland to the criminal allegations eight months previously, and that RBS did not dispute that McEwan was aware of the allegations during the evidence session.

Last month McEwan wrote to Nicky Morgan, Chair of the Treasury Committee, stating that he “entirely reject[ed] the suggestion that the Committee may have been in any way misled by the evidence”.

He stated that the criminal allegations that RBS referred to Police Scotland did not relate to issues relating to the FCA's four-year investigation into GRG's treatment of SME customers, which was the subject of the January hearing.

However in response, Nicky Morgan said this explanation is "unconvincing", adding that "a number of Committee Members, including myself, asked questions that were not solely confined to the substance of the report".

Morgan also said the timing and content of McEwan's letter ­ which was received only after The Times article - suggests that "this was not an inadvertent oversight but a conscious choice".

Commenting on the correspondence, Morgan said: "When asked in January if he was aware of any criminal activity at GRG, Mr McEwan withheld information of relevance and interest to the Committee. His letter to me implies that this was not inadvertent, but because he considered that the criminal allegations and police investigation in question were not related to the subject matter of the Committee’s session.

"The Committee is unconvinced by that explanation. It expects clarity and openness from witnesses, and Mr McEwan’s evidence fell short of that standard.

"More generally, the Committee is concerned by the pattern of defensiveness, and a failure to acknowledge mistakes, demonstrated by RBS throughout its handling of the GRG affair. Mr McEwan’s letter to me is an example of this, and it casts doubt on his assurances that RBS’ culture has changed fundamentally since he took up his position five years ago.

"If the Committee decides to ask Mr McEwan to provide further oral evidence, it will expect him to tell the whole truth, not an edited version to suit him.”

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