Incompetent, but not corrupt: the final word on Goodwin's RBS

His disastrous strategy may have brought Royal Bank of Scotland to its knees, recording the worst corporate losses in UK history, while he still picked up a lucrative pension pot, but yesterday Sir Fred Goodwin was cleared by the City watchdog of breaking any rules.

After an 18-month investigation into the events that forced RBS into seeking a bailout from the taxpayer, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has ruled out fraud, blaming instead a "series of bad decisions".

Fred the Shred, so called because of his ruthless approach to cutting costs and jobs, came to represent the worst excesses of the banking crisis when it emerged he was to leave the organisation with a £700,000-a-year pension.

The regulator said as it closed the investigation yesterday that the bad decisions that saw the bank post losses of £28bn for 2008 "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".

There will be no enforcement against the bank or any of the senior managers, the FSA said but added "the competence of RBS individuals can, and will, be taken into account in any future applications" to work in the City.

In the wake of the outrage Sir Fred escaped abroad after his house and car were targeted by vandals. He kept a low profile until emerging this year with a lucrative role as adviser to RMJM, the Scottish architects' firm which has worked on the design of the Scottish Parliament.

RBS, which is 83 per cent owned by the Government, said it "welcomed" the conclusion of the review and was now "wholly focused on our work to restructure the bank and rebuild value for shareholders".

Privately, banking sources said that, while many thought there must have been a deliberate policy behind the bank's troubles, "this review was a bit of a damp squib really."

The unions greeted it with fury however, with Unite labelling the conclusions "an outrage". Its national officer, Rob MacGregor, said: "It is unacceptable to suggest that the behaviour of the management did not 'lack integrity' when they brought RBS to its knees, resulting in thousands of staff losing their livelihoods".

He added: "By failing to bring any formal charges against the RBS executives they have allowed some of the biggest villains of the financial crisis to go on enjoying their millionaire lifestyles whilst taxpayers experience cuts and staff face an insecure future."

Since the departure of Sir Fred, RBS has axed nearly 27,000 staff. Yet in August the group reported it had scraped back into the black. Yesterday, the regulator said the most significant of the bank's bad decisions was the catastrophic €71bn (£60bn) acquisition of the Dutch bank ABN Amro.

Johnny Cameron, who was head of RBS's investment banking division, agreed with the regulator not to accept a full-time job in banking earlier this year. He has since taken an advisory role at Gleacher Shacklock an investment banking advisory firm.

RBS did fall foul of the regulator in August, when it fined the group a record £5.6m for failing to ensure funds were not transferred to people under Treasury sanction. While unrelated to the collapse, it was another black mark against Sir Fred's stewardship.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there