Last November RBS apologised for the conduct of its now defunct Global Restructuring Group (GRG), which had been accused of deliberately sending viable firms under and seizing their assets to make a profit.
Although it admitted errors in communication, record keeping and complaint handling, it rejected allegations that it profited by causing small businesses to fail.
Over 100 former GRG clients are preparing to sue RBS for compensation. However, one of the bank’s most senior directors labelled some of the small business owners as “chancers” who had put their lives into failed businesses and were now looking for “a bailout”.
He added: “Let them sue. We’ll see them in court.”
Approximately 12,000 small businesses dealt with GRG between 2008 and 2013, of which 4,000 will receive refunds from RBS on the fees that they had to pay at the time, for which the bank has earmarked £400million.
The small company owners can also make fresh complaints about their treatment in a process overseen by retired high court judge, Sir William Blackburne. However, RBS will not review any other cases.
City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority, commissioned a report into the GRG affair in 2014 and although it was supposed to be published last year, its release has been delayed by a legal process called “Maxwellisation”, which gives people criticised in official reports a chance to respond.
The allegations of misconduct at GRG surfaced in 2013 when Lawrence Tomlinson, who was an adviser to the then business secretary Sir Vince Cable, compiled a dossier claiming the bank deliberately wrecked small firms to benefit RBS.
Elsewhere, one of the key investment banking advisers to RBS during Fred Goodwin’s time as CEO will be forced to take the stand, when an investor lawsuit against the bank heads to the High Court next month.
Matthew Greenburgh, a former star Merrill Lynch banker, was part of the banking team that helped Goodwin secure the £49billion acquisition of Dutch investment bank ABN Amro in 2007, which proved to be the undoing of RBS, saddling it with billions of pounds of toxic mortgages and bond investments that brought it to the brink of disaster.
He was also an adviser to Lloyds TSB when it purchased HBOS in September 2008 at the behest of the then prime minister Gordon Brown.
Instead of stabilising HBOS, which was experiencing severe financial distress because of the credit crunch, the deal destabilised both banks, which resulted in Lloyds needing a Government bailout.
Investors are suing RBS as they believe the bank misled them about the true state of its finances when they backed its £12billion fundraising in February 2008.