The Treasury select committee has published an internal memo in which staff at Royal Bank of Scotland were told to let struggling businesses “hang themselves” in the wake of the financial crisis.
Staff at the now defunct RBS Global Restructuring Group listed in a document written in 2009 a number of tips to leverage fees and make profits out of small businesses.
The 16-page document, entitled “Just Hit Budget!” has been released by the bank to MPs yesterday ahead of a hearing today.
The GRG was set up by RBS between 2005 and 2013 and was intended to help businesses facing financial distress.
The paper released to MPs includes points like “Rope: Sometimes you just have to let customers hang themselves” and “If they sign, they can’t complain.”
Another tip said: “Avoid round number fees — £5,300 sounds as if you have thought about it, £5k sounds like you haven’t.”
Conservative MP for Dumfries and Galloway and Treasury committee member Alister Jack said: “At a time when banks had created a financial crisis, they should have been standing foursquare behind customers.
“That memo highlights the disgraceful approach the bank took after getting themselves into difficulty, to then transfer problems on to customers whenever they had the opportunity.”
RBS said it had also passed the document to the FCA as part of its inquiry, which is still ongoing. RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, who sent the memo to the TSC, said it had originally circulated among a small group of RBS staff.
In a letter to the committee also published on Wednesday, McEwan said: “The language used in the document was completely inappropriate and the bank does not condone it. It does not reflect bank policy or guidance, either at the time it was written or today.”
McEwan also reiterated that the FCA in November “made clear that, in a significant majority of cases, it was likely RBS’ actions did not result in material financial distress to customers.”