RBS boss faces re­call threat as MPS say he ‘with­held in­for­ma­tion’ in ev­i­dence

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By KALYEENA MAKORTOFF

Royal Bank of Scot­land boss Ross Mcewan could again be hauled in front of MPS af­ter be­ing ac­cused of mis­lead­ing a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee over a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into former bank staff.

Mr Mcewan is al­leged to have “with­held in­for­ma­tion” from the in­flu­en­tial Trea­sury se­lect com­mit­tee when he de­nied that he was aware of any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity within the bank by its work­ers.

But six months later the Times re­ported that Po­lice Scot­land were in­ves­ti­gat­ing crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions in re­la­tions to a former em­ployee of its RBS Re­struc­tur­ing unit.

Mrm­ce­wan­has­nowde­fended his com­ments in a let­ter to Trea­sury com­mit­tee chair­man Nicky Mor­gan, claim­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties in ques­tion fell out­side the pe­riod un­der dis­cus­sion at the com­mit­tee’s Jan­uary hear­ing, which re­lated to the bank’s now-de­funct Global Re­struc­tur­ing Group (GRG).

RBS’ Global Re­struc­tur­ing Group (GRG) has been ac­cused of push­ing firms to­wards fail­ure in the hope of pick­ing up as­sets on the cheap, but was left off the hook in a re­cent rul­ing by the reg­u­la­tor.

The crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity be­ing probed by po­lice is said to have taken place be­tween 2014 and 2016.

“We would en­tirely re­ject the sug­ges­tion that the com­mit­tee may have been in any way misled by the ev­i­dence that I gave dur­ing my ap­pear­ance be­fore you in Jan­uary,” Mr Mcewan said.

But Ms Mor­gan said his ex­pla­na­tion was “un­con­vinc­ing”.

“When asked in Jan­uary if he was aware of any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity at GRG, Mr Mcewan with­held in­for­ma­tion of rel­e­vance and in­ter­est to the Com­mit­tee,” she said.

“His let­ter to me im­plies that this was not in­ad­ver­tent, but be­cause he con­sid­ered that the crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions and po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion in ques­tion were not re­lated to the sub­ject mat­ter of the com­mit­tee’s ses­sion.

“The com­mit­tee is un­con­vinced by that ex­pla­na­tion. It ex­pects clar­ity and open­ness from wit­nesses, and Mr Mcewan’s ev­i­dence fell short of that stan­dard.”

She also hit out at the tone of the RBS chief ex­ec­u­tive’s let­ter, say­ing the com­mit­tee is “con­cerned by the pat­tern of de­fen­sive­ness, and a fail­ure to ac­knowl­edge mis­takes, demon­strated by RBS through­out its han­dling of the GRG af­fair”.

“Mr Mcewan’s let­ter to me is an ex­am­ple of this, and it casts doubt on his as­sur­ances that RBS’ cul­ture has changed fun­da­men­tally since he took up his po­si­tion five years ago.”

He could now be hauled back to Par­lia­ment to face MPS.

Mr Mcewan said he was “dis­ap­pointed” by the com­mit­tee’s re­sponse.

Royal Bank of Scot­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Ross Mcewan has de­nied he misled MPS dur­ing ev­i­dence to the Trea­sury se­lect com­mit­tee but could be re­called to face fresh ques­tions

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