Scotland business

RBS bosses including Fred Goodwin avoid charges over rights issue in 2008

Fred Goodwin
Image caption Fred Goodwin was in charge at RBS when it nearly collapsed in 2008

Former RBS bosses, including Fred Goodwin, will not face criminal charges in connection with the sale of shares in the bank in the months leading up to its collapse, prosecutors have said.

The Crown Office had been investigating the bank's decision to carry out a rights issue in 2008.

The move led to huge losses for people investing in shares.

Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to press charges against any senior manager involved in the issue.

RBS said it had "co-operated fully" with the investigation and "noted" the Crown Office's decision.

The Edinburgh-based bank was being led at the time by Mr Goodwin.

In April 2008 RBS announced it wanted to raise £12bn to shore up its reserves following the £49bn purchase of Dutch bank ABN Amro, one of the biggest takeovers in European banking history.

The rights issue - an invitation to existing shareholders to purchase new shares - was one of the largest in British corporate history.

Just months later, in October 2008, the value of RBS shares plummeted and it had to be bailed out by the UK government, at a cost to the taxpayer of £45bn.

The Crown Office investigation was launched following a report by the then Financial Services Authority in December 2011.

'Extremely complex'

In a statement, the Crown Office said the investigation had been "extremely complex".

It said: "The Crown's investigation focused on the rights issue of April - June 2008, and involved detailed consideration of whether there was any evidence of criminal conduct associated with the rights issue.

"If there were such evidence those responsible would face prosecution.

"If not, the public in Scotland could be reassured that the matter had been properly investigated.

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"This was an extremely complex investigation which included the examination of over 160,000 documents by a team of specialist forensic accountants and banking experts, supervised by the Serious and Organised Crime Division.

"The investigation involved close co-operation with a range of financial regulators and banking institutions, including the Financial Conduct Authority, the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Reporting Council."

It added: "Following careful examination of all the evidence seen to date, Crown Counsel have decided that there is insufficient evidence in law of criminal conduct either in relation to RBS as an institution or any directors or other senior management involved in the rights issue.

"If any further evidence comes to light which is relevant to this enquiry it will be considered by the Crown and we reserve the right to make further enquiry, if considered appropriate."

An RBS spokeman said: "We co-operated fully with this investigation and we note today's decision."

Several shareholder groups are suing over Fred Goodwin's £12bn rights issue in 2008, claiming they were knowingly misled. Cases are likely to reach court this year.

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