Thousands of leaked documents revealed by BuzzFeed News and BBC Newsnight show how RBS's troubled business division, Global Restructuring Group (GRG), systematically crushed thousands of businesses after the financial crash by draining them of cash and stripping their assets. The files reveal 16,000 firms were sucked into GRG in the recession – including hundreds of farms, care homes, schools and nurseries, and hotels. RBS denied that it systematically destroyed businesses for profit but admitted that "a number of our customers did not receive the level of service they should have done".
These are some of the people who say RBS ruined their livelihoods.
This school was forced to close in the middle of exams after GRG halved its value overnight.
The studio where Susan Boyle recorded her music was shut down by RBS's troubled business unit.
GRG tried to claw back money from this man's dead wife after it shut down his care home business.
GRG took out a loan in this man’s name to pay its own legal fees as it demanded a stake in his farm development.
This farmer says RBS killed his business and made his family homeless.
RBS denied deliberately destroying businesses for profit but admitted GRG let customers down.
In a statement, RBS said it had lost £2 billion on its loans to small and medium-sized businesses during the financial crisis. It said the bank did not make an overall profit from GRG’s activities – the restructuring unit’s revenues did not exceed the losses the entire bank suffered on business loans gone bad after the crash. But its statement acknowledged, for the first time, that “a number of our customers did not receive the level of service they should have done” in GRG.
“We could have managed the transition to GRG better and we could have better explained to customers any changes to the prices or fees we were charging,” its statement said. “We also did not always handle customer complaints well. As a result, a number of our customers did not receive the level of service they should have done or, importantly, that they would receive now.”
But RBS still insisted “GRG’s role was to protect the bank’s position, where possible by working with distressed businesses to return them to financial health”, and said it had seen “nothing to support the allegations that the bank artificially distressed otherwise viable SME businesses or deliberately caused them to fail”.
Tom Warren is an investigations correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Jane Bradley is an investigations correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Richard Holmes is an investigations reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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Heidi Blake is the Global Investigations Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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