RBS Slammed with £29m Fine for “Anti-competitive” Behaviour

By Danny Chapman

The Royal Bank of Scotland were slapped by nearly £30m worth of fines from the Office of fair trading after admitting their staff passed confidential details of clients to Barclays, “anti competitive” behaviour was the reasoning from the OFT.

Several members of staff at Barclays and RBS were found to have discussed at length on several occasions general and specific details of loans. Though Barclays came forward to the OFT, RBS sit flustered after the £29 million pound fine was passed by the office of fair trading.

Royal Bank Of Scotland Group

The £28.6m fine to RBS was initiated after the Royal Bank of Scotland admitted to “breaches of competition law” during a period between October 2007 and March 2008, the details of which included giving confidential information on two specific future loans. Originally the loan stood at £33.6 m, this was then lowered due to the banks admission of guilt along with their ongoing cooperation with the investigations.

“This is a deeply regrettable and isolated case from nearly two years ago, involving only two members of staff, one of whom has left the bank and one other who faces suspension and further investigation now the case has been settled. We have co-operated fully with the OFT throughout and have introduced stringent additional competition law training to ensure that this unacceptable behaviour does not happen again,” said an Royal Bank of Scotland spokesman.

Ali Nikpay, a senior director of cartels and criminal enforcement at the Office of Fair Trading, commented that there was no evidence of far reaching illegal passing or sharing of confidential information by banks, but said those found guilty of such an offence should expect to receive a “substantial penalty”.

“It is important that companies operating in the UK understand the seriousness of such conduct and ensure effective competition compliance throughout their organisation,” said Mr Nikpay.

Phillip Collins, chairman at the OFT, noted that the case of RBS and Barclays showed that “we take such infringements of competition law seriously.”

Others caught for Anti Competitive behaviour

September 2009: The construction company Kier Regional Ltd was fined £17.89m, part of £129.5m in fines issued to 103 construction firms rigging prices.

September 2009: The recruitment leaders Hays is fined £30.36m for price-fixing with several other firms to drive out a competitor. The total of six recruitment companies were fined a total of £39.27m.

December 2007: Sainsbury’s, the groceries specialists are fined £26m after they admit to being part of a dairy price fixing cartel including rivals Morrisons, Asda and other dairy firms.

August 2007: British Airways, the UK’s leader at the time are fined £121.5m for price-fixing with Virgin off-spring Virgin Atlantic on long-haul routes.

February 2003: Argos is handed a £17.28m fine for fixing prices of Hasbro toys and games including Action Man with rival Littlewoods – which was fined £5.4m.

Image by ell brown.