RBS withholding bonuses for 18 staff during probe

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) says it is withholding bonuses for 18 employees while its probe into their possible involvement in fixing foreign exchange rates is underway.

The move comes as RBS investigates foreign exchange rigging, which has already cost banks billions of pounds in fines.

In a statement, RBS said:

“We said at the time that a thorough review would take time to complete, and committed to providing an update on progress before the end of the year, which we are now doing.”

RBS says it is reviewing the conduct of more than 50 current and former traders who work(ed) in the Corporate & Institutional Banking division, which was the focus of regulators’ probes.

The second phase of the review, relating to senior management and supervisors responsible for the foreign exchange business at the time of the misconduct, has identified several individuals whose responsibilities and accountabilities are also being examined, the company said.

Jon Pain, RBS

Mr. Pain said it is a “complicated process.”

So far, six employees have been placed into a disciplinary process, three of whom have been suspended.

RBS, which described the investigations as “complex”, says it is striving to complete the review as rapidly as possible. When the review is complete in the first quarter of 2015, it will provide a further update.

Head of Conduct and Regulatory Affairs at RBS, Jon Pain, said:

“We are undertaking a robust and thorough review into the actions of the traders that caused this wrongdoing and the management that oversaw it. This is a complicated process but also an essential one in order to identify culpability and accountability for this unacceptable misconduct.”

“To be clear no further bonus payments will be made or unvested bonus awards released to those in scope of the review until it has concluded and its recommendations have been considered by the Remuneration Committee and the Board Risk Committee.”

“There is no place for any misconduct at the RBS we are building. We want to get these things settled so we can put these issues behind us and get on with rebuilding trust in this bank.”

RBS recently had to pay £400 million in fines to US and UK authorities for its role in the forex scandal which emerged two years ago.

In November, RBS along with five other banks was fined £2.6 billion by Swiss, US and UK authorities after being found guilty of foreign exchange manipulation for a number of years.

A separate investigation is underway at Barclays.

Last week, a former RBS trader was arrested in Billericay in Essex on suspicion of rigging currency markets. The Serious Fraud Office confirmed the arrest.