Following on from our Irish builders piece, we have a sister piece today which ties up some of the loose ends, and goes a little further. This article looks at the Irish end of RBS’s evil Global Restructuring Group (GRG) which, say many close to the action, actively destroyed businesses to profit from their demise. This is exactly the kind of thing that went down in Reading, England, and incurred the wrath of TV star Noel Edmonds.
There have been rumours about RBS GRG for years. Private Eye went further, demonstrating several cases where apparently viable businesses were hounded out of existence. Finally, in October last year, the BBC and Buzzfeed uncovered a trove of documents which, they claimed, finally proved that GRG was not only profiting from the businesses that failed under its watch, but was artificially pushing otherwise good businesses over the edge. Not just vultures, but killer sharks as well. This is strange, because the first person to publicly make the allegations, Lawrence Tomlinson, was pilloried by RBS. It even arranged a whitewash investigation by its own legal team at Clifford Chance to discredit his claims. They were easy to discredit, as Tomlinson himself had suffered at the hands of RBS. But it turns out he was right.
RBS has previous here. It has admitted using a fake law company to send threatening letters to its very own customers. Assuming, correctly, that some of its less experienced retail customers would assume the legal firm to be independent, that they would then become more likely to deal with their bank and fix their issues. This was not only cynical, but it shows the levels to which RBS routinely stoops. A close reading of the letters revealed, in tiny print, that the law office had the very same address as RBS itself. Sadly, and surprisingly, this practice, although seriously dodgy, is not illegal.
So let us travel to Ireland. RBS is active there, as everywhere else in the UK, where it uses the brand name Ulster Bank. Another company closely associated with the growing GRG scandal is something called West Register. This is a property investment company closely associated with RBS. It is well-known inside financial circles on the British mainland, and its name is now synonymous with GRG and corruption. However, it is not widely known that West Register is also incorporated in Ireland.
A look at the Northern Ireland branch of West Register today reveals a sinking ship with rats leaping from its decks. One such rat, Derek Sachs, left in late 2011. This was long before he became famous after appearing in the House of Commons to falsely state that GRG was not a profit centre. It demonstrably was, and he quit RBS. It turns out, he was also a director of West Register, which he had also quit, with less fanfare.
Strangely enough, another West Register director left in August 2011, just weeks before Sachs. This director’s name is Nathan Bostock. Mr Bostock was a director of three companies linked to West Register. This is the very same Mr Bostock who lasted just 10 weeks as finance director of the entire RBS group in 2013.
Remember Lawrence Tomlinson? His scathing report into GRG came out on 25th November 2013. On Tuesday 10th December, Bostock quit RBS abruptly after only 10 weeks. Who had overall responsibility for GRG, and was a former director of numerous West Register subsidiaries? Yes, Nathan Bostock, now sunning himself over at that hot retail property, Spanish Banco Santander.
So look closely at the timeline: Lawrence Tomlinson, a businessman wronged by RBS, acting for the British government, writes a scathing report about RBS. RBS reacts with shock and horror. Tomlinson lies! they cry, and commission various investigations by their own patsies to prove their innocence. Strangely, and contradicting this fake horror, those most closely associated with GRG and the scandal start to quietly leave, or they are moved to other duties. Sachs, Bostock, Sullivan, all left within months of each other. Sachs and Bostock were previously directors of arm’s length companies named West Register. And not only on the mainland, but in Ireland too.
Which brings us right back around to those suicidal Irish builders. What a mess. And this scandal is not over. The evidence and allegations keep on coming. This could yet be one that brings even further billions in fines. Some of the West Register companies are being liquidated, others are going strong. Another director left on 22 June 2017. This is not over.
You can read more about this piece in an excellent article in the Irish Independent.