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U.K. Regs To Conclude RBS Probe Next Month As Criticism Mounts

The U.K. financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), announced its plans to complete its investigation into the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) by the end of next month, amid rising criticism over a perceived lack of transparency in the probe and sluggish action from the authority.

Reports in Reuters on Wednesday (June 13) said the FCA aims to conclude its investigation at the end of July as it probes RBS’ Global Restructuring Group, which is accused of mistreating small businesses and forcing some into bankruptcy.

“My expectation is that we will finish the investigative part before the end of July,” said FCA Chief Executive Andrew Bailey while speaking to Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee. “We are going through extensive amounts of evidential material.”

But as the FCA reveals its timeline, criticism continues to mount from small businesses and policymakers regarding the slow rate of progress and lack of transparency in the investigation. In February, the Treasury Select Committee made public the FCA’s initial findings in its ongoing RBS investigation, which revealed that the Global Restructuring Group worked with an estimated 12,000 struggling businesses between 2007 and 2012.

The FCA is facing similar criticism of a lack of transparency and speed over its handling of an investigation into Lloyd’s Banking Group’s HBOS division, reports noted.

According to reports, it is unclear whether the FCA will initiate enforcement action against the RBS.

Bailey further noted that the FCA has been in contact with an unnamed party that may have additional evidence pertaining to the RBS case, but is not revealing that information. Bailey described that situation as “somewhat dismaying.”

“The idea that there is more material out there not been made known to us previously is not something we wanted to hear,” he said.

The RBS was forced to set aside $1 billion worth of grants to its competitors in an effort to spur small business banking competition. That requirement was placed on the bank by the Treasury and European Commission last year.

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