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RBS’ Trouble With SMBs Isn’t Over Yet

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) may not be done with its probe into the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), following allegations the bank profited from the demise of some of its small business (SMB) clients, according to news from Reuters this week.

The FCA released a summary report of its investigation into RBS’ Global Restructuring Group (GRG), the unit into which some small business customers were forced. While the GRG was formed to help struggling businesses, leaked documents suggested that some SMBs forced into the program never missed a loan payment and that the GRG unit imposed high fees and interest rates on those companies, forcing some firms to declare bankruptcy and close their doors.

Last month, criticism mounted against the FCA for its decision not to publish a full report into the matter.

But according to Reuters, the summary report suggests that the FCA is, in fact, continuing its investigation.

“Far from drawing a line under this affair, today’s report is just the start of the long journey to justice for GRG’s victims,” said a spokesperson for the GRG Action Group, which was formed to represent some of the small businesses affected by the scandal. The group currently represents more than 500 former small business GRG customers, reports said.

The FCA’s summary report said part of the scandal can be attributed to systemic failures within RBS. Authorities did not declare that the bank “systemically and deliberately” forced SMBs into bankruptcy, Reuters said, as had been alleged in a 2013 report. However, accusations of such an occurrence continue among some former SMB customers.

Earlier this year, the BBC reported on a leaked copy of the FCA’s full report, which reportedly found that only 10 percent of the companies placed into the GRG emerged intact and were placed back with RBS. The BBC said the report found 12,000 businesses were placed into the group between 2007 and 2012.


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