Tomlinson RBS report 'does include Ulster Bank'
- 23 January 2014
- From the section Northern Ireland
There is evidence that Ulster Bank deliberately bankrupted some viable businesses to make more profit, a government adviser has said.
Lawrence Tomlinson's allegations centre on a division of parent company RBS specialising in loans seen as being more risky.
Mr Tomlinson said Ulster Bank was included in his report, commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Ulster Bank said his report in November "covered RBS operations in the UK".
"As of now no evidence has been produced that backs the claims of systemic fraud being made," a spokesperson said.
The Tomlinson report said there was evidence that RBS deliberately put some "good and viable" businesses into default so it could make more profit.
His allegations centre on the bank's Global Restructuring Group (GRG) lending division, which specialises in handling loans seen as being more risky.
His report says that putting a business into the GRG generated revenue for the bank through fees, increased profit margins and the purchase of devalued assets by their property division, West Register.
The practice of removing a bad debt from a bank's books is not an unusual one, particularly as major lenders have been trying to move away from riskier assets.
Mr Tomlinson, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, has been meeting Ulster Bank business customers in Northern Ireland to gather evidence.
"One of the reasons I came over was I wanted to be absolutely clear that Ulster Bank was included in my report and dossier of evidence, even though they said it wasn't," he said.
"I think Ulster Bank deployed exactly the same tactics that I outlined in my dossier of evidence and report."
Mr Tomlinson said his report had disregarded businesses that would have probably failed during the property crash.
"What I'm looking at here is businesses that I and other people believe were viable and were taken down a route, believing they were being helped by going into a restructuring department, but found out that they weren't and ended up losing their assets," he said.
"Having met 120 people last night and probably another 40 businesses today, it just reinforces exactly what I've got in my report and gives me more confidence that the Financial Conduct Authority will find major issues within GRG."
RBS has asked law firm Clifford Chance to investigate claims made by Mr Tomlinson as well as Sir Andrew Large, whose report commissioned by RBS looked at its lending to small businesses.
On Wednesday, Sir Andrew told the Treasury Select Committee he had seen nothing to back up Mr Tomlinson's allegations.
"There's an element of plausibility in the assertions that are in the Tomlinson report... but that doesn't mean to say I think those activities are actually happening. I didn't have any evidence of them," he said.
Mr Cable has passed the Tomlinson report to City regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
In a statement, Ulster Bank said it was "committed to working with customers who find themselves in difficulty and work with customers who engage with us to help them find a solution on a case-by-case basis".
"We understand the importance of a thriving and successful business sector," the spokesperson added.