Britain's Serious Fraud Office mulling RBS probe, report says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 November, 2013, 9:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 November, 2013, 9:20am

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is considering the possibility of launching a criminal investigation into allegations that Royal Bank of Scotland mistreated struggling small businesses, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, citing five people familiar with the matter.

RBS has been accused by government adviser Lawrence Tomlinson of pushing struggling small firms into its “turnaround” unit, so it could charge higher fees and interest and take control of their assets.

“The only thing we’re saying is that we’re aware of the issue and we are monitoring developments,” a spokeswoman for the Serious Fraud Office said.

The newspaper said the SFO has conducted interviews with former executives of British businesses affected by RBS’s Global Restructuring Group. The business manages the bank’s riskier loans.

A spokeswoman for RBS declined to comment.

RBS appointed law firm Clifford Chance on Monday to conduct an inquiry into the allegations. Business Secretary Vince Cable has demanded an urgent response from the bank and Britain’s financial regulator.