By Emma Rumney
LONDON (Reuters) – British lawmakers on Friday accused Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Chief Executive Ross McEwan of withholding information when he gave evidence to their committee in January, a charge the CEO disputes.
Nicky Morgan, chair of Parliament’s Treasury Committee, said McEwan failed to disclose, when asked whether there had been any criminal activity at the state-controlled bank, that one of its former employees was under investigation by police, despite RBS <RBS.L> having been aware of this since 2017.
McEwan said in a statement he did not disclose the information because he did not consider it related to the subject under discussion with lawmakers.
The CEO was called before the Treasury Committee to discuss allegations of malpractice at RBS’s restructuring unit in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority investigated the unit for the period from 2008 to 2013 and concluded that many aspects of its culture, governance and practices were “deficient,” although there had not been criminal activity.
As the police investigation into the employee related to a later period, McEwan did not consider it relevant to the committee’s inquiry. “I replied to the committee’s questions in good faith,” he said in a statement.
However, Morgan said his explanation in a letter to the committee was unconvincing.
“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,” she said in a statement.
The Treasury Committee is an influential group of lawmakers. In June, the committee said it had “lost confidence” in TSB bank boss Paul Pester after an IT crisis. Under widespread pressure, Pester stepped down this month.
Morgan said RBS had displayed a “pattern of defensiveness” and “failure to acknowledge mistakes” throughout its handling of the problems at the restructuring group.
“McEwan’s letter to me is an example of this, and it casts doubt on his assurances that RBS’s culture has changed fundamentally since he took up his position five years ago.”
(Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Mark Potter)