Crown Office gives its verdict

Former RBS executives ‘will not face prosecution’

RBS hqFormer executives of Royal Bank of Scotland will not face criminal charges in relation to the issue of shares ahead of its collapse in 2008.

Thousands of shareholders who bought into the £12 billion rights issue claim they were not informed of the bank’s precarious financial position and consequently lost personal savings when the shares crashed.

The Crown Office, which has been investigating the launch of a rights issue in 2008, said there was insufficient evidence to press charges against any senior manager, including former chief executive Fred Goodwin (pictured), who was part of the process.

The share issue was launched as part of the funding required to acquire a stake in Dutch bank ABN Amro. The £49bn deal was struck with Santander and Fortis Bank of Belgium and was one of the biggest ever European bank takeovers.

Months after the share issue RBS had to be rescued with £45bn of taxpayers money.

The Crown Office investigation was launched following a report by the watchdog Financial Services Authority in December 2011.

In a statement, the Crown Office said: “The Crown’s investigation focused on the rights issue of April – June 2008, and involved detailed consideration of whether there was any evidence of criminal conduct associated with the rights issue.

“If there were such evidence those responsible would face prosecution.

“If not, the public in Scotland could be reassured that the matter had been properly investigated.

“This was an extremely complex investigation which included the examination of over 160,000 documents by a team of specialist forensic accountants and banking experts, supervised by the Serious and Organised Crime Division.”

It added: “The investigation involved close co-operation with a range of financial regulators and banking institutions, including the Financial Conduct Authority, the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Reporting Council.

“Following careful examination of all the evidence seen to date, Crown Counsel have decided that there is insufficient evidence in law of criminal conduct either in relation to RBS as an institution or any directors or other senior management involved in the rights issue.

“If any further evidence comes to light which is relevant to this enquiry it will be considered by the Crown and we reserve the right to make further enquiry, if considered appropriate.”

A number of shareholder groups are suing the former executives for compensation and as reported in Daily Business last week there are tentative indications that RBS may be prepared to go to arbitration.

However, the Crown Office’s verdict may embolden the bank into believing it can win the case.

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