By Harvey Jones – Friday, 21 November, 2014
Given the bashing they got after the financial crisis, it’s amazing the banks survived at all. Even former Bank of England governor Mervyn King was surprised people weren’t angrier at their behaviour.
Barclays (LSE: BARC), HSBC Holdings (LSE: HSBA), Lloyds Banking Group (LSE: LLOY) and Royal Bank of Scotland Group (LSE: RBS) escaped the guillotine that time, but they may be heading for the chopping block now.
There’s a revolution going on in the banking sector, and this time the ancient regime could be doomed.
Top dividend investor Neil Woodford saw it coming, and made good his escape. His concern was “fine inflation”, as regulators court favour with the mob by slapping ever harsher penalties on our banking overlords.
Lawyers acting for businesses affected by Royal Bank of Scotland’s turnaround division have demanded that the bank preserve “critical evidence” before a planned group legal action.
Quinn Emanuel, an American law firm, has written to RBS highlighting concerns that a decision to close the global restructuring group (GRG) could lead to key evidence being lost.
The firm represents a Business Action Group which is made up of shareholders and affected directors who say GRG’s activities led to the failure of otherwise viable companies.
They say that the bank charged excessive fees, deliberately causing customers to default and undervalued their assets before buying them through the bank’s own property division, West Register.
Revenue & Customs is understood to be looking into related concerns that banks and other finance companies told struggling customers to delay paying their taxes. When some of these businesses went bankrupt the taxman — as an unsecured creditor — lost out. The Revenue lost £4.4 billion in 2012-13 because of insolvencies, figures show.
RBS denies the allegations. It is closing down the division, arguing that an improving economy reduces the need for restructuring. Key staff have left, some for other restructuring units.
Quinn Emanuel has requested that the bank preserve physical and electronic records and stops destroying documents or computer hard drives. It fears evidence could be “inadvertently or deliberately” destroyed.
It has also asked the bank to notify GRG suppliers as well as present and former employees of the planned legal action so that they can also keep evidence.
The “litigate hold” letter highlights potential court sanctions related to the risk of destruction of evidence during the pre-legal action process, although there is no suggestion that RBS has done so.
RBS restructuring has been under intense scrutiny since Lawrence Tomlinson, a former government adviser, published a report last year that criticised the division’s conduct. The Financial Conduct Authority is carrying out an inquiry.
The Action Group said it had 200 “viable” claims of wrongdoing and planned legal action before the end of the year. With hundreds more cases being analysed, a spokeswoman said the group expected action on behalf of about 600 businesses.
It had appointed the London-based Clyde & Co to help it to compile a group litigation, but the law firm stepped down after some of its insurance clients who work with RBS highlighted a potential conflict of interest.
RBS declined to comment yesterday on the move.
ROYAL Bank of Scotland has failed to overturn a Court of Session verdict that it misrepresented a land valuation in order to secure a £300,000 personal guarantee from two property developers in the wake of the financial crash.
The bank faces a £100,000 bill for damages to Glasgow-based Ian McDonald and James O’Donnell, on top of the estimated £400,000 total costs of a lengthy court action aimed at justifying the bank’s conduct in early 2009.
Three Appeal Court judges have backed the June 2013 ruling against RBS by Lord Malcolm, who described the bank’s action against the developers as “a case study of the causes and consequences of the property crash”.
Mr McDonald said yesterday that law firm MBM Commercial had told RBS in February 2010 that the personal guarantee was unenforceable because of a clearly flawed site valuation. READ MORE
Attached link to the Keiser report interview with Neil Mitchell that certainly makes one think Starts after approx 15 minutes and well worth a look if you have not already seen this. http://t.co/1cBJnNhjtC
In the last 24 hrs since Neil appeared for his 3rd interview on Russia Today RT: Keiser Report… this time literally hundreds & hundreds & hundreds of people have contacted him by all forms of social media / technologies across the UK & globally…the Power of Social media in a just cause !
People are even offering donations & suggesting Crowdfunding globally to help me fund a battle against RBS & HM Treasury.
We somehow have to harness the will of this sample / cross section of people / activists to object / revolt / vote against Bank Fraud & Political Inaction. We don’t want to enter Politics, just focus this people / tax payer / voter “Movement” in calling RBS to account for Criminality.
RBS are currently threatening Libel actions, Court Injunctions & Summary Judgements against Tweeters.
Neil doesn’t care – it is all factually correct – Bring it On ! – he looks forward to the Appeal Court when he can explain to the Judge, in the public interest, in front of the assembled media, what RBS have been doing against the interests of the people / taxpayers – interestingly he has had no contact from RBS.
Here is a typical comment about the show:
1) Total Respect to Neil Mitchell to not only standing his ground but putting everything he owns on the line for justice and something he believes in. The .gov’s job is to keep organizations like RBS in line not to support them and wipe small companies out, standing up to such a powerful bank must be very tough. Small businesses are the backbone of any economy and for all the media organizations apart from Max and Stacy to completely ignore the destruction of this important area of commercial production and employment sums up just how sold out and in the pockets of the big banksters those in charge really are.
10 / 10 rating!!
SAMPLE of literally hundreds & hundreds of positive comments across Social media from all over the world and I have not been attacked / trolled once.
2) – The Keiser Report is always great when Neil Mitchel is on grassing up RBS. Why Scotland was even worried about them leaving beats me.
– Really like the way Neil Mitchell cuts the crap and gets right to the point!
– Even though I am for independent Scotland, Britain needs more people like you Neil ! Get one domino to fall and they will all topple
– Neil Mitchell – bless you and your hard work. It’s people like you who make the world go round…
– The public need people like you to stand up to this sort of behaviour in all walks of life.
– Thank you Neil Mitchel for what your doing. This is what we all need to be doing. Payback for these predatory Financial monsters causing misery among our communities.
– Watched you on Max Keiser Neil, A man on a mission, good luck in your ongoing quest for justice,you are inspiring!
– I echo that Neil’s doing a cracking job Blow the right note and the walls of Jericho will fall
– Great interview!! Wish you all the best. Hope u can slay the RBS dragon
And these rather chilling tweets tonight:
– We would love to take RBS down – we will never get any £££sss back, of course… let’s destroy it!
proletarian dissent @ColbyJS 6m6 minutes ago
You are a hero @RNW_MITCHELL. After watching you with @maxkeiser genuinely fear for your life as prosecution gets closer.
and this one from New York:
Just watched your interview with @maxkeiser. Great work and good luck.
and this from Tasmania:
I have seen you on Kaiser report a few times now, and think well of you.
How can I donate ?
Paypal , Swift or something.
As when you are awesome people like bet on your success, please allow
people to donate; say libel action by RBS on twitter, or just something
to give a win to the people.
You don’t have to do all the heavy lifting yourself !!
Tasmania , Australia
and this for the tourists:
3) Hey, get to see Tower Bridge opening and letting a tall ship through whilst Neil Mitchell is on.
and finally this:
4) Why don’t we all focus on one thing and contribute towards the ONLY Criminal action being taken against banksters?
This is what we all shout about:
“When are these banksters going to be put in jail?!”
Well here it is folks! This is IT ! Let’s make it happen!
Mixed messages from the mandarins and the Bank
The spirit of Yes Minister is alive and well, it seems. When The Timeshighlighted a case of a contentious Royal Bank of Scotland loan to a small Welsh company that came with a taxpayer-funded guarantee, Westminster’s finest in the business department promised that an independent review would be conducted. Recent inquiries reveal a change of heart, with the department stating that Royal Bank of Scotland would be allowed to resolve the dispute by paying for “mediation” between itself and its disgruntled customer.
A shame, then, that no one told RBS. Correspondence from Andrew Armbrister, head of business support at the bank, shows that it has no intention of coughing up. So where does that leave things? The government is “considering an independent review”. Sir Humphrey would be furious.
Great news for SME’s!
The SME Alliance held its first meeting at the Law Society on Wednesday 24/09/14.
This is an organisation for change and the organiser Nikki Turner has a vision for a minimum of 10,000 SME’s to join the group in the next 12 months to form a massive voice for change. Changing how SME’s are treated by banks, the regulatory authorities and the government is key to the Alliance raison d’être! However there are other advantages too, the scale of which has only just begun to be discovered.
There were 26 SME’s at the first meeting and any SME is welcome to join and share their experiences and expertise. There may be a tiered membership with free membership to those that want it and a small charge per month to those that can afford it, to enable the Alliance to run as a real business from the outset.
There will be services that members will be able to take advantage of, which include as a starting point, best bank information, loan and insurance advice, real legal assistance, litigation funding, shared member experience, and of course the individual expertise of members themselves.
James Hurley from The Times was there too and will be writing an article soon.
The Serious Fraud Office has criticised the recruitment of “independent” experts to investigate criminal behaviour in companies, warning that the practice risks destroying the evidence needed to put rogue business people and bankers behind bars.
David Green, director-general of the SFO, said that he was against businesses commissioning their own reports into allegations of serious misbehaviour that often “cleared” the subject of any illicit activity. He complained that the SFO was often handed privately paid-for investigations by expensive external lawyers that contained an “inherent conflict”.
“The report itself may tend to minimise the problem one way or another. Later claims of legal privilege on witness statements taken by the external lawyers can be questionable. And, of course, the crime scene can be churned up by the investigation. The SFO will never take such a report at face value and will drill down into its evidence and conclusions,” Mr Green said.
Last week, PwC was fined $25 million in New York after authorities accused the consultancy of watering down its report into alleged money laundering by Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, as claims emerged that it had toned down some of its criticism of the Japanese lender.
British banks have also used the technique. Last year Royal Bank of Scotland brought in Clifford Chance to investigate allegations that its global restructuring group had deliberately put business customers into administration for its profit. Clifford Chance’s £1.5 million report said that it had found no evidence to back up claims originally made by Lawrence Tomlinson, a millionaire businessman and adviser to Vince Cable, the business secretary.
“If you really wanted to find out what was happening, you wouldn’t have gone for such a narrow remit,” Mr Tomlinson said.
The SFO is deciding whether to launch a criminal investigation into RBS’s global restructuring group and is also looking at allegations that the bank misled customers over the use of a government loan funding scheme.
Barry Vitou, head of the corporate crime team at Pinsent Masons, the law firm, said he was “sympathetic” with Mr Green’s criticism but added that there were often good reasons for companies to conduct their own inquiries.
“I agree 110 per cent with the SFO’s desire not to have hordes of people trampling over a crime scene — but there is a balance, which needs to be struck,” Mr Vitou said. “The SFO is requesting corporates to self-report wrongdoing. Before any company does, it will want to be reasonably certain that it isn’t about to create a monumental mountain out of a molehill. Internal investigations are, therefore, a fact of life for the SFO, but it is key that any internal investigation is done properly and does not prejudice a potential criminal investigation.”
Banks, including RBS, are facing SFO investigations into Libor-rigging and foreign exchange market manipulation. More than 100 SFO staff are working full-time on these inquiries.
Despite this, Mr Green warned that it was likely the SFO was a long way from getting to the bottom of much of the criminality in the City. “The size of the white-collar criminal legal sectors servicing the City of London suggests there is a lot more work out there that the SFO could be doing,” he said.
Royal Bank of Scotland has returned to the bottom of the banking class, with a £14.5m fine for up to 30,000 cases of providing poor advice to mortgage customers.
And a report into its failings contains disturbing evidence of troubles to come.
At the beginning of August the company was briefly the belle of the banking ball, having caught just about everyone on the hop by rushing out news of a better than expected £2.6bn first-half profit a week ahead of schedule.
But its statement also warned of “significant conduct and litigation issues that will likely hit our profits going forward”. No one expected one of them to hit quite so soon. READ MORE
A Flintshire builder whose company went under after he claims the RBS mis-sold him a government-backed loan is to sue the banking group.
Clive May’s firm ceased trading five days before Christmas 2013 with the loss of 17 staff and 13 sub-contractors from the Mold firm.
There are now calls for a review of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG), which helps small businesses obtain funding they may not get elsewhere.
RBS said they could not comment.
READ MORE AND WATCH THE VIDEO BROADCAST