Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

RBS CEO Criticizes Ex-Vice Chairman's Decision to Sue the Bank

  • Grossart said to be among about 1,000 seeking to join group
  • RBS has settled with 4 of 5 investor groups over 2008 offering

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Ross McEwan criticized the bank’s former vice-chairman, Angus Grossart, for looking to join a lawsuit seeking more than 1 billion pounds ($1.25 billion) from the taxpayer-owned lender.

“If I was an ex-director or a member of staff, I would not be taking a case against the bank I had served on," McEwan said on the sidelines of a meeting with reporters on Friday. “If I was a senior executive and I was responsible for the bank, I would not do that. That’s my own personal value-set."

Grossart would join a group that’s suing not just the bank, but his one-time ally in the executive suite -- ex-CEO Fred Goodwin, a person familiar with the matter said this month. The claim was filed in London Feb. 9, according to High Court records. The 1,000 new complainants are suing over a 12 billion-pound rights issue in 2008, months before RBS’s government bailout. Grossart wasn’t immediately able to be reached for comment.

The bank is preparing to head to court over the lawsuit, which pitches some of RBS’s shareholders, customers and former employees against the bank. The Edinburgh-based lender has reached a deal with four out of five groups of investors who sued the bank over its 2008 rights issue, setting aside an 800 million-pound pool in December to cover all of the claims. 

“Unless we can settle, it will go to court,” said McEwan, who added he was expressing a personal view about former directors seeking to sue the bank. “We work on the assumption that this is going to court in May.”

Read more: The background to Grossart’s effort to join the suit

Grossart had been a board director for 19 years until April 2005. In 2010, he gave an interview to The Scotsman newspaper in which he defended the former CEO and compared attacks on his “good friend” to the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis in 1930s Germany.

McEwan said the bank would argue it is too late for Grossart and the group of investors to join the lawsuit because they had missed deadlines to sue. “They’re well and truly too late to join this,” he said.

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