Royal Bank of Scotland Settles DOJ RMBS Fraud Probe for $44M
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) has agreed to a non-prosecution deal with the US Justice Department to resolve a criminal probe accusing traders of defrauding residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and collateralized loan obligation (CLO) customers. As part of the settlement, RBS will pay a $35M fine. It will also pay at least $9M to over 30 customers, including affiliates of Barclays (BARC), Goldman Sachs (GS), Bank of America (BAC), Citigroup (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS), as well as to the Soros Fund Management and Pacific Investment Management Co. RBS admitted to the misconduct.
The bank’s fraud involved mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities, and commercial mortgage-backed securities. The group that handled these securities for the bank is no longer in operation.
According to prosecutors, from ’08 to ’13, RBS lied about bond prices, charged unwarranted commissions, and hid the fraud, all the while enhancing its own profits and costing customers money. In a joint press release, the DOJ and the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said that the bank’s employees were encouraged to engage in the wrongful behavior, including misrepresenting material facts to customers, lying about the seller’s asking price to the buyer and lying about the buyer’s asking price to the seller, pocketing the difference between what the buyer paid and what the seller received, and misrepresenting that a non-existent third party was involved in the bond sales so that the bank could charge the extra, unwarranted commission. RBS is also accused of training its CLO and RMBS traders to engage in the fraudulent practices, lying to customers that suspected the fraud, and disregarding its employees who complained about the fraud.