Former directors of value chain Peacocks are considering making a complaint to the Serious Fraud Office about Royal Bank of Scotland, in the wake of allegations the bank pushed small firms into administration so it could make a profit.
RBS was the key coordinating bank for Peacocks at the time of its collapse in early 2012, being paid a weekly fee for its work, which included looking for fresh finance to keep the 600-store group afloat.
But it was also a leading lender to the group, and as such had a role in deciding to call in administrators despite chief executive Richard Kirk and chairman Allan Leighton being close to securing the £20m needed to continue negotiations with lenders.
Six weeks after administrators were appointed, the chain was sold to Edinburgh Woollen Mills for £23m.
Sources close to the former Peacocks board told the Mail on Sunday that the directors believed that other options for the business could have been successful if the bank had been more supportive.
Kirk declined to comment on the situation to MoS.
The Serious Fraud Office is already looking at a report compiled by Lawrence Tomlinson, entrepreneur in residence at the department for business, which claims that the bank’s Global Restructuring Group had pushed many small firms into administration so it could snap up their assets cheaply.
Separately, it emerged last week that a dossier had been handed to the SFO by a whistleblower raising concerns over the involvement of RBS in a number of administrations including HMV and Clintons.
The SFO told MoS it was “monitoring the situation” concerning RBS.
RBS chief executive Ross McEwan said of Tomlinson’s claims: “The most serious allegation is that RBS conducted a systematic effort to profit on the back of our customers when they were in financial distress. We do not believe this is the case, but it has nonetheless done serious damage to RBS’s reputation. No evidence has been provided for that allegation to the bank.”