Vince Cable urges quick decision on RBS prosecution

Business secretary says there is 'serious public concern' over actions of lender's leadership before £45.5bn taxpayer bailout

Business Secretary Vince Cable has called on prosecutors to reach a decision “as quickly as possible” about possible action against the directors of Royal Bank of Scotland at the time of the financial giant's collapse.

Mr Cable said there was "considerable public concern" about the actions of the lender's leadership, which left RBS needing a £45.5 billion taxpayer-funded rescue.

The matter was referred to Scottish prosecuting authority the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in January 2012 following a damning report into the bank's failings by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

In a letter to Advocate General Lord Wallace, Mr Cable asked for an update on the progress of the case but insisted he was "not seeking to influence the outcome" of the legal process.

The Business Secretary told his fellow Liberal Democrat: "There is, as you will know, considerable public concern about the actions of the directors of RBS prior to its insolvency.

"Following the release of the FSA's report into the failure of RBS I sought legal advice on what if any enforcement action was appropriate and was advised that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service should consider a possible prosecution.

"Given that this matter was referred to them in January 2012, I am very keen for a decision to be reached as quickly as possible in order to maintain public confidence in the efficiency of the decision-making process.

"I am fully aware that the decision whether or not to prosecute rests with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as the relevant independent prosecuting authority.

"I want to be clear that I am not seeking to influence the outcome of this process. However, public and media interest in the banking sector and RBS have not dissipated.

"There have been numerous questions about what steps can be taken to address concerns. In particular this has focused on the prosecution and possible disqualification of former directors in appropriate cases."

The Business Secretary said he appreciated the complexities of the case but asked for an update on progress and the likely timeframes for a decision.

RBS was brought to its knees by "multiple poor decisions" and a £50 billion "gamble" on buying Dutch bank ABN Amro, the FSA report found.

The report shone a light on the poor relations between the FSA and RBS and said chief executive Fred Goodwin's "assertive and robust" management style was flagged as a potential risk as early as 2003, four years before the disastrous ABN Amro deal.

In January 2012, a month after the FSA report, Mr Goodwin was stripped of the knighthood he was awarded for services to banking.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss