Fresh bank rows in the offing?
2016 wasn't great for Royal Bank of Scotland. The embattled bank, led by Ross McEwan, not only saw its shares tumble over 20pc since the beginning of the year but also its protracted legal battles rumble on.
Things, though, could be about to get worse for taxpayer-owned RBS as little old Betaville's court mole has got in touch to reveal the bank has been hit by a flurry of new litigation. Seven new claims were filed against the bank in three days at the end of November, according to Mr Mole. When you consider that up until that point only 28 cases had been filed at London’s High Court in 2016 against the bank that’s a good chunk of defence work the lawyers will be clocking up over the holidays.
And there appears to be a common thread running through the cases. Five of the seven claims against RBS listed entities called SIG Number 2 Limited or SIG 1 Holdings as defendants alongside the bank. If the name SIG is not immediately recognisable that’s because it was recently changed from West Register - the division RBS used to warehouse assets it had taken from clients in its “turnaround” division GRG.
The fact that RBS and West Register may suggest two things. Firstly, that the mechanism by which the bank moved assets from its clients’ balance sheet to its own balance sheets will finally come under some kind of judicial scrutiny. Secondly, that claimants have finally woken up to the fact they don’t stand a chance getting any kind of recompense through the regulator - after all West Register was never a regulated entity.
This all makes for a busy time for RBS. Whilst the bank now appears to have a new wave of fresh litigation crashing down on it, RBS will also see the judgement on the Libor / GRG cases Property Alliance Group versus RBS tomorrow morning. And once all that’s out, there is the main course to tuck into: the £700 million Stuart Wall versus RBS claim, which is gathering steam in the courts for a showdown that promises to be a legal highlight of 2017.
Happy new year Mr McEwan.....