The Financial Services Authority has just published its verdict on what went wrong at Royal Bank of Scotland: nothing. ‘Twas just a spot of bad decision making, that’s all!
No one can explain better than the FSA itself so here’s the press release of their judgment in its entirety. Your comments are very welcome.
In May 2009 the Financial Services Authority (FSA) launched a supervisory investigation into Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), as one of the UK banks that required partial taxpayer bailout support. This work considered if regulatory rules had been broken and what, if any, action was appropriate. The review was necessarily extensive and looked specifically at the conduct of senior individuals at the bank, the acquisition of ABN AMRO in 2007 and the 2008 capital raisings. The FSA conducted the review with assistance from PWC.
The FSA has now completed this supervisory investigation.
The review confirmed that RBS made a series of bad decisions in the years immediately before the financial crisis, most significantly the acquisition of ABN AMRO and the decision to aggressively expand its investment banking business. However, the review concluded that these bad decisions were not the result of a lack of integrity by any individual and we did not identify any instances of fraud or dishonest activity by RBS senior individuals or a failure of governance on the part of the Board.
The issues we investigated do not warrant us taking any enforcement action, either against the firm or against individuals. However, the competence of RBS individuals can, and will, be taken into account in any future applications made by them to work at FSA regulated firms.
The FSA’s supervisory investigations into other banks that ‘failed’ during the crisis are ongoing. If they lead to enforcement action being taken then it would be usual for the FSA to make these outcomes public if such actions against individuals or institutions are successful.
The FSA cannot publish the content of the RBS review as information gathered from the bank during the course of the review remains confidential under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).