Royal Bank of Scotland's new chief executive, Ross McEwan, has denied claims the bank 'systematically' ran small businesses into the ground, and said the allegations have damaged RBS' reputation.
McEwan (pictured) said yesterday he had seen no evidence the bank had sought to make money from customers by pushing them into its Global Restructuring Group (GRG) division, which specialises in handling riskier loans.
"It is important to note that the most serious allegation that has been made is that RBS conducted a 'systematic' effort to profit on the back of our customers when they were in financial distress," the Guardian quotes him as saying.
"We do not believe that this is the case, but it has nonetheless done serious damage to RBS's reputation. No evidence has been provided for that allegation to the bank."
The bank's lawyers are conducting a full investigation into the claims, the CEO added. “The review I have commissioned will examine the details of the allegations that have been made and will have access to whatever information it needs,” he said.
RBS has hired law firm Clifford Chance to defend it against claims made by Lawrence Tomlinson, an adviser to business secretary Vince Cable.
The taxpayer-owned bank has been accused of killing off small businesses to seize assets for its own property empire, in evidence referred to financial watchdogs.
Tomlinson's report said: "RBS has forced vibrant businesses into financial trouble, only to profit from their distress by squeezing them for exorbitant fees and charges and ultimately seizing their assets to swell its own vast property empire.
"By driving healthy companies into the ground, RBS has not only ruined thousands of lives, it has also gravely hindered our economic recovery, compounding the misery of millions of hard-working Britons."
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