The Sunday Post (Inverness)
The bank GLOBAL RESTRUCTURING GROUP UNDER attack
Owners of failed firms once handled by the Royal Bank of Scotland’s notorious Global Restructuring Group have accused them of driving their business to the wall.
Neil Mitchell, a businessman whose software company went bust after it was transferred to GRG, has called for a joint action against the bank.
He said: “It’s the only way that we can get the government and the board of the bank to listen.” GRG was promoted as a specialist “turnaround” service to help struggling businesses and more than 12,000 RBS customers were signed over to it between 2007 and 2012. An independent review carried out for the Financial Conduct Authority found that “in some areas the inappropriate treatment of customers was widespread and systematic”.
In January, the Treasury Select Committee published an internal GRG memo from 2009 which stated that staff sometimes “need to let customers hang themselves”.
RBS chief executive Ross Mcewan was later accused of “withholding information” from the committee about whether police were probing any criminal allegations relating to GRG.
The FCA found no evidence was found that RBS transferred “otherwise viable” small and medium (SME) businesses so it could profit from them going under.
But it said: “GRG did not appear to recognise the emotional stress suffered by SME customers in difficult personal circumstances, who were not only losing their business and income but, in some cases where it was held as security by RBS, their family home as well.” Mr Mitchell, who founded the campaigning organisation Banks Claims Group, is seeking a judicial review into the watchdog’s decision not to take disciplinary sanctions against those behind GRG. He said customers being pushed into signing personal guarantees was a “common element” among those who lost their businesses. He added: “The guarantee for every small or medium sized business owner in the country is usually the family home. They take the houses off them by forced repossessions and that renders business people homeless. It splits families.
“The victims were made to think that they were a business failure.”