Ulster Bank 'closed viable firms'

Ulster Bank 'closed viable firms'

A senior government advisor has claimed that Ulster Bank deliberately closed viable companies in order to profit from their assets, an allegation which the organisation refutes.

In November, the Tomlinson Report into banking practices at RBS, the parent company of the Ulster Bank, claimed the bank deliberately closed viable businesses to profit, something RBS denied.The report focused on a section of the lender's turn-around division called the Global Restructuring Group (GRG).Firms, which the bank considered were struggling, were placed into GRG, which was supposed to assess the companies' options.However, some of the customers involved in the process have accused the GRG of acting in the banks' own interests rather than their own.This week, Lawrence Tomlinson met with Stormont Finance Minister Simon Hamilton and discussed the alleged malpractice by the financial institution, which is 81% owned by the Government.He has also met with those local customers who feel they may have been subjected to the practice.After my conversation with Lawrence Tomlinson, it's very clear he did build his report on the basis on some evidence from Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, that concerns me greatly, that should concern all of us very greatly.Simon HamiltonMr Hamilton said he was shocked by the revelations.He said: "If there were businesses that, as Lawrence Tomlinson, suggested were put to the wall because of what Ulster Bank did then that is something that should concern us and it's something that I intend to take up with the head of the RBS.""It's also something I am keen to discuss with the government as well."Mr Tomlinson says he has a "huge dossier of evidence" that the bank acted inappropriately.However, the report has been criticised because it has not named those individuals involved in the findings.Mr Tomlinson added: "The report is not anecdotal, it has had to be anonymised because the people who have come from Ulster Bank and GRG are so frightened of the bank that they would not have come out had it not been anonymised."I have a huge dossier of evidence behind the report that will be passed to the Financial Conduct Authority."In a statement the Ulster Bank said: "The Tomlinson Report covered operations in the United Kingdom and as of now no evidence has been produced that backs the claims of systemic fraud being made."Ulster Bank is committed to working with customers who find themselves in difficulty and work with customers who engage with us to help them find a solution on a case-by-case basis."We understand the importance of a thriving and successful business sector."The claims contained in the Tomlinson Report are being investigated by the financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority.RBS has also commissioned law firm Clifford Chance to examine the report.

© UTV

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