Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS agrees to buy back structured notes sold by Lehman at 100pc

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 5:32am

Royal Bank of Scotland has agreed to buy back HK$513 million of Lehman Brothers-related equity-linked notes at their par value from 540 investors who bought the products from the bank in 2007 and 2008.

RBS is the latest bank to reach a settlement with the Securities and Futures Commission and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority after investigations into whether bank staff mis-sold risky products to customers.

The bank agreed, without admitting any liability, to repurchase at 100 per cent of par value the Lehman-linked equity-linked notes (ELN) it sold to the retail customers.

Under the settlement, the SFC and the HKMA will not impose disciplinary action on the bank or its current or former staff in relation to the sale of Lehman ELNs, except for cases involving criminal fraud or deceptive behaviour.

The SFC, however, will continue to investigate Royal Bank of Scotland over its sale of Lehman-linked ELNs to professional investors. Professional investors have more than HK$8 million in investment assets and are supposedly more experienced than ordinary retail investors.

The SFC found the RBS risk-profiling questionnaire for its retail customers was weighted erroneously, causing some customers to be assigned a higher risk tolerance than was appropriate. It noted the bank had classified Lehman ELNs as high-risk products but had still sold them to customers with low risk-tolerance levels.

More than 20,000 investors complained they were mis-sold Lehman Brothers-related products. Lehman collapsed in 2008, leaving the products worthless.