RBS CEO ‘Withheld Information’ in Hearing, U.K. Lawmakers Say

(Bloomberg) -- Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc chief Ross McEwan is under fire from lawmakers over his alleged failure to disclose information during a U.K. parliamentary probe of the scandal-hit small-business lending unit.

McEwan “withheld information” at a hearing of the Treasury Committee in January that RBS had earlier alerted police to criminal allegations at its Global Restructuring Unit, according to the head of the committee, Nicky Morgan. McEwan had been aware of the police investigation at the time, which was later disclosed by the Times newspaper in July, according to Morgan, citing a letter from the chief executive officer.

The committee “expects clarity and openness from witnesses, and Mr. McEwan’s evidence fell short of that standard,” Morgan said in a statement. “If the committee decides to ask Mr McEwan to provide further oral evidence, it will expect him to tell the whole truth, not an edited version to suit him.”

The Financial Conduct Authority in July decided not to take action against former senior executives of RBS after a highly critical investigation found its small-business lending unit prioritized profits over clients. In some cases clients faced unreasonably high interest rates and the use of made-up fees. The lender has apologized for the treatment of some of its customers.

In response to Morgan, McEwan said in a statement that he’d replied to the committee’s questions in good faith.

“There continue to be clear constraints as to what can be disclosed as we would not want to prejudice an ongoing police investigation,” McEwan said. “The allegations that we referred to Police Scotland did not relate to any of the issues that the FCA has been considering as part of its four-year investigation.”

It isn’t the first time that Morgan has criticized the head of a U.K. bank. Former TSB Banking Group chief Paul Pester came under pressure from the Treasury Committee in June after presiding over an IT failure at the bank. He stepped down earlier this month.

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