RBS Boss warns forex scandal could be bigger than Libor rigging: The Chief Executive of Royal Bank of Scotland has warned that the international investigation into foreign exchange trading could turn into a worse scandal than either the Libor interest-rate fixing or payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling cases.
The chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has said there is a "good chance" that the taxpayer will make its money back when the Government eventually sells its stake in the bank, despite shares currently trading well below its bailout price.
Ross McEwan told LBC Radio: "We're on a path to making a good bank, and a good bank will get a good price". When asked if this will mean the taxpayer recouping the £46bn pumped in by the taxpayer in 2008, he said: "You've got a good chance of doing that," although he forecast that it will take another "two or three years of hard work" to turn the bank around.
The Government owns 80pc of RBS, and unlike Lloyds Banking Group, has been unable to sell any of its stake, with any divestment unlikely before next May's general election.
The bank was bailed out at 502p per share, although fees paid by the bank mean that the Treasury could make its money back on a lower share price of just over 400p. On Friday morning, RBS was trading around 2pc down at 317p.
Mr McEwan, who took charge of RBS 10 months ago, said the bank is making progress in dealing with the issues of the past, but admitted that further conduct and litigation issues will emerge in the next 18 months.
He said big banks could be facing fines on the scale of the Libor scandal over alleged currency rigging, saying the issue "has all the hallmarks" of the problems related to the interest rate benchmark.
"There are a number of litigation and conduct issues we're still having to grapple with," he said. "We're still doing lots of investigating, going through millions of emails and chat room [logs]."
Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £390m by US and UK regulators over Libor rigging, and €391m (£309m) by EU authorities last year.
The RBS chief made his comments shortly after the Competition and Markets Authority announced that it planned to investigate big banks' grip on the market.
"It’d be good to have the inquiry to see if there’s anything else we should be doing. I welcome it, let's get on with it," he said. "I’d welcome some certainty."
The Financial Times (£): Royal Bank of Scotland is considering selling the overseas operations of Coutts, its private banking arm, which includes the Queen among its clients, as it conducts a strategic review of its wealth management business.
The Telegraph reported last month that RBS has previously told Mr Cable that firing the gun on the sale of W&G before the 2016 deadline agreed with the Treasury was highly unlikely, despite his earlier comments.
UK banks face break-up as competition inquiry looms
Ahead of expected announcement from the Competition and Markets Authority, Vince Cable writes to RBS chief to tell him to speed up Williams & Glyn divestment
Britain's biggest high street banks face being broken up as the result of a landmark competition inquiry which is expected to be announced on Friday.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is on Friday morning expected to fire the starting pistol on a full-blown competition inquiry into the banking sector.
The CMA, the UK’s competition watchdog, is expected to make the announcement at 7am on Friday, ahead of the stock market open, on the back of findings from its study into competition in banking.
The inquiry, which is likely to only report after next May’s General Election, will trigger measures to allow a more level playing field for so-called 'challenger banks’ such as TSB and Metro, and possible reductions in the size of some of the larger incumbents.
Shares of the big four banks - Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland - are likely to be knocked as investors question future profitability.
The CMA’s decision follows Labour leader Ed Miliband’s call for the big banks to be broken up, a policy announcement which was widely dismissed by rival politicians.
On the eve of the CMA announcement, Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, wrote to Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS, telling him to accelerate a partial break-up of part of its UK business.
RBS is being forced to sell off Williams & Glyn (W&G) as the result of a European Comission diktat on the back of the £45bn of state aid RBS received at the height of the financial crisis.
The W&G business - which is being sold to a consortium of investors including the Church of England Commissioners through an accelerated initial public offering (IPO) - will consist of 316 branches, covering 1.7m customers, and a 5pc share of the UK’s SME market.
In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by The Telegraph, Mr Cable demands “greater clarity” on the “path to divestment” of W&G - made up of 316 renamed RBS branches and a sizeable SME portfolio - which under current plans will not be fully divested until the end of 2017.
Mr Cable, who last month said he was frustrated by the time taken by RBS to extricate the business, which the bank previously tried and failed to sell to rival Santander.
“Business continues to raise concerns with me that the length of the process risks reducing the impact of the full divestment...because it could increase the possibility of gradual erosion of the divested business’s customer base,” he wrote.
The Business Secretary goes on to suggest that even if the initial IPO cannot take place before 2016, RBS should consider rebranding the branches sooner, and publish a “clear timelin
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