Police reveal they are investigating RBS treatment of small business clients

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Police have revealed they are looking into reports they’ve received about Royal Bank of Scotland’s treatment of small business customers.

The police have not revealed how many reports it had received or the nature of the complaints but it is reported to be related to the bank’s now defunct global restructuring group (GRG).

GRG has repeatedly faced claims that it deliberately forced small businesses to the brink of collapse so it could profit from their demise by selling off their properties. RBS denies the claims.

RBS, which is 70 per cent owned by the taxpayer, said it was aware that Police Scotland had received one complaint and would cooperate fully.

“RBS has recently become aware that Police Scotland are reviewing an individual complaint made against the bank. RBS is not privy to any details but will cooperate with any request for information made by Police Scotland,” the bank said.

Police Scotland confirmed having “received reports regarding the Royal Bank of Scotland and that enquiries are ongoing to assess if there is any criminality present in the allegations made within these reports”.

The BBC reported that a formal investigation had not been launched by the police into the unspecified allegations.

The latest complaints have surfaced amid continuing controversy about the publication of a regulatory report into the GRG division. MPs on the Treasury select committee have been calling for the so-called section 116 report – paid for by RBS but handed to the Financial Conduct Authority – to be published in full.

But the FCA has said it does not plan to publish the reports in their entirety but will issue a summary of the findings. This week, however, the FCA agreed to a request from Nicky Morgan, the chair of the Treasury select committee, to allow its legal adviser, Andrew Green QC, to compare the FCA’s summary with the actual report.

Andrew Bailey, the chief executive of the FCA, is scheduled to appear before the committee on 31 October and Morgan said the committee’s advisers would report before he gives his evidence to the MPs.

Last November, RBS said it would pay £400m in compensation to small businesses badly treated by the division to refund fees they were charged and said that fresh complaints could be made for alleged mistreatment of small firms between 2008 and 2013 in a process that will be overseen by a retired high court judge.

The shadow small business minister, Bill Esterson, told the BBC: “For years, thousands of people’s businesses were destroyed and ruined and their relationships broken up, and sadly people [have] taken their own lives.”