In Brief

RBS memo to ‘let customers hang themselves’ sparks fury

Ex-MP says callous banking tactics following 2008 crash drove small business owners to suicide

A Royal Bank of Scotland manager suggested struggling business customers be left to “hang themselves” following the 2008 financial crisis that saw taxpayers spend £45bn to bail out the failed bank.

The 2009 internal memo, called “Just Hit Budget!”, provided staff with a list of ways to squeeze money out of business clients scrambling to repay loans following the collapse of banking giant Lehman Brothers, HBOS and Edinburgh-based RBS.

“Sometimes you need to let customers hang themselves. You have then gained their trust and they know what’s coming when they fail to deliver,” the junior manager wrote, according to Bloomberg. “Missed opportunities will mean missed bonuses.”

The document was intially provided to Parliament’s Treasury Committee.

Scotland’s Daily Record says the document lays bare the bank’s “predatory practises” at the expense of its customers. Former SNP MP George Kerevan said it was “undeniable” that RBS’s tactics drove some small business owners to suicide, reports the Daily Mirror.

The Herald says RBS staff were given “tactics” on how to leverage earnings from businesses referred to the lender’s Global Restructuring Group (GRG). 

Labour MP Clive Lewis is calling today for a public inquiry over allegations that GRG “drove companies to the wall for profit”, The Guardian says.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Treasury Committee chair Nicky Morgan, RBS CEO Ross McEwan said that the controversial memo “should be viewed in context”, but added that “the language used in the document was completely unacceptable”.

The author of the memo, who has not been named, no longer works at the bank, McEwan added. RBS declined to comment further, says Bloomberg.

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