RBS and Goodwin sued for £2.4bn by angry investors

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The Independent Online

Royal Bank of Scotland and former directors including former chief executive Fred Goodwin and former chairman Sir Tom McKillop have been hit with a £2.4bn legal claim from angry investors in the taxpayer bailed-out bank.

RBOS Shareholders Action Group was due to deliver claims letters today to the bank and 17 former directors, including the former head of investment banking Johnny Cameron and the former finance director Guy Whittaker. These claim that RBS misled investors in the propectus for its £12bn rights issue to fund the takeover of the Dutch bank ABN Amro just five months before it had to be bailed out by the taxpayer.

The Action Group is backed by 7,400 private shareholders and 80 institutional investors, including Collins Stewart, Deutsche Bank, SG Hambro, Credit Agricole, State Street Securities and HSBC Global Custody. Ironically it also includes NatWest Stockbrokers.

The statement of claim, issued by the London legal firm Bird & Bird, is set to allege that RBS and its board withheld or misrepresented information about the true state of the bank's finance when it launched the rights issue in April 2008.

Investors suffered huge losses as a result of the bailouts. In December of that year RBS received its first £20bn state bailout, followed by a second round of taxpayer money worth £25bn in December 2009.

The action group claims that Mr Goodwin publicly denied the need for a rights issue, stating only two months beforehand: "There are no plans for any inorganic capital raisings or anything of the sort."

The Financial Services Authority did not take any action against Mr Goodwin or any other RBS directors, despite stating that the bank's near collapse was due to poor management. Mr Goodwin was stripped of his knighthood last month.

A spokesman for RBS said the group has "substantial and credible legal and factual defences" to the claims and will "defend itself vigorously".