Treasury Committee chair urges City watchdog to publish leaked RBS report

Updated: 

The chair of an influential committee of MPs has demanded the City watchdog urgently publish its leaked report into the scandal at Royal Bank of Scotland's controversial restructuring unit.

Nicky Morgan, who heads up the Treasury Select Committee, warned last month's leak to the BBC has left the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with "no control over the timing or content" of further public disclosures from the report.

In a letter to FCA boss Andrew Bailey, she urged him to secure approval from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for full publication of the report "without delay".

Nicky Morgan
Treasury Select Committee chair Nicky Morgan urged the FCA to publish the leaked RBS report in full (PA)

She also asked the FCA to update the Committee on its inquiry into the leak itself and if the regulator "bears any responsibility".

Ms Morgan's call comes as lawyers for businesses suing RBS, as well as the SME Alliance, which represents small businesses affected by the scandal, have also demanded publication of the report.

The study was commissioned by the regulator almost four years ago as part of its inquiry into its Global Restructuring Group (GRG).

The FCA pledged last November to publish a "full account" from the skilled persons' report, but has so far refused to make it public.

Andrew Bailey
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, has been called on to release the long-awaited report (PA)

Ms Morgan said: "Nearly a year later, and nearly four years since the report was commissioned, we are still waiting for answers.

"The report itself is now in the hands of an unknown number of third parties. The FCA now has no control over the timing or content of further public disclosures from it."

She added: "The balance has tipped firmly in favour of full publication. I have written to Mr Bailey to urge him to secure the approval of RBS to do so, without delay."

The BBC reported late last month that the 361-page leaked report showed 92% of "viable" firms seen by GRG experienced "inappropriate action", such as interest charges being raised or unnecessary fees imposed.

It was also reported that only 10% of business customers put into GRG ever returned to the main bank.

The FCA said it would "respond in due course" to Ms Morgan's letter.

It confirmed it has launched an internal inquiry into the leak, but stressed that RBS and Promontory, which led the official inquiry on behalf of the regulator, also had access to the report and have been asked to do the same.

Ms Morgan said, given that this is not the first leak of FCA information on the scandal, "lessons must be learned to ensure it is the last".

Market-sensitive details of RBS's compensation scheme for former GRG customers was leaked in November 2016, but the FCA has yet to reveal the findings of an internal investigation.

Ms Morgan called for details of this previous leak inquiry as she cautioned that "quite apart from being unlawful, the disclosure of confidential information can damage the FCA's relationship with the regulated community and undermine the trust and confidence needed for it to do its job effectively".

The FCA said: "If the Treasury Select Committee or the BBC have evidence that the document was leaked by the FCA, we encourage them to share that with us."