The Financial Conduct Authority
25, The North Colonnade,
Canary Wharf, London E14 5HS
29th August 2017
Dear Mr Bailey,
S166 Report re RBS.GRG
This letter is a request on behalf of SME Alliance members who have been adversely affected by the GRG department of RBS. It has been widely announced in the press that the FCA report into RBS GRG has been leaked and the BBC has had sight of the entire report. We understand the FCA report found many businesses were badly mistreated by the GRG division which is something many of our members have long alleged and which the Bank has repeatedly denied.
It is reasonable and in fact obvious that, had victims of GRG had sight of your report prior to going through any redress scheme, complaints to the FOS and/or and most importantly, through costly court cases, your findings would have lent considerable weight to the outcomes. Therefore the secrecy the FCA has adopted (undoubtedly attributable to Section 348) will have been materially detrimental to victims and may have resulted in any Court being seriously mislead by the Banks highly remunerated legal teams. In short, withholding the S166 report may have caused multiple miscarriages of justice.
We note your three operational objectives are: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. We fail to understand how withholding the report into RBS GRG will support any of the objectives or why it has not already been made available to help secure protection for consumers, which all business owners who secured loans with personal assets, are.
As you may already know, the conduct of some GRG staff has resulted in depression, destitution and sadly even tragedy for those victims who chose suicide rather than a seemingly futile opposition to RBS/GRG’s aggressive actions. We would therefore be grateful if you would advise us as to when the full report will be publicly available before yet more damage is done? Failure to release it can only result in further miscarriages of justice and those withholding crucial information will be perverting the course of justice.
Finally, you have commented in the press to say much of the work done by the GRG division is unregulated and therefore the FCA’s powers may be limited. If this is the case, we would question why the FCA undertook its review in the first place? We also ask if RBS and all its divisions are immune from the FCA Principles for Business because it is clear none of the findings meet the criteria of any of the 11 Principles, in particular Principles 1, 6, 9 and 10. We are very concerned that while the FCA may discipline RBS for breach of its Principles (with a hefty fine which will be paid by its shareholders – predominantly the tax payer) it may feel such an ineffectual penalty will suffice.
Our members and thousands of other business owners would be devastated should this be the case so we need your assurance this systemic fraud will not be swept under the carpet leaving yet more SMEs to face misery and penury. This is not a game of the smartest lawyers win – this is about people’s lives and we hope the FCA, under your direction, will now see fit to release a report which may make it easier for victims of RBS GRG (known internally as the slaughter house) to get justice.
Thank you for your attention to the above and we look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
Nikki Turner and Nick Gould
Directors, SME Alliance Ltd (a not for profit organisation)
On behalf of SME Alliance members.