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The past comes back to haunt the Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS said it would set nearly $5 billion to cover litigation losses tied to mortgage-backed securities and other assets sold before the financial crisis began

The mistakes of the 2008 financial meltdown still weigh heavy on the Royal Bank of Scotland today. At the time, the bank was bailed out by the British government and claimed it would set aside three billion pounds, or about $4.97 billion, to cover litigation claims related to mortgage-backed securities.

RBS is now singing a different tune. As a result of the financial crisis, eight top executives of the bank will not receive bonuses for 2013, The New York Times reported. The bank’s CEO Ross M. McEwan said that he will not take a bonus for 2013 and 2014. “We have to show we take accountability seriously,” McEwan said in a statement.

“Billions of pounds have been spent to resolve conduct and litigation issues in recent years,” McEwan continued. “Costs on this scale were not predicted by anyone when R.B.S. was rescued in 2008. They come in addition to the costs of restructuring the bank’s bad assets and restoring its funding to prudent levels after the financial crisis.”

Deutsche Bank reported its results early, saying it had posted a loss of 1.2 billion euros ($1.64 billion) related to costs for litigation. RBS said it would take a £1.9 billion ($3.1 billion) charge for potential claims related to mortgage-backed securities and other securities litigation in the U.S. It is, in fact, among the banks being investigated by the Justice Department over mortgage sales and is the subject of a lawsuit by the Federal Housing Finance Agency over mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In addition, RBS said it would take a £465 million ($766 million) provision to cover claims related to improperly sold payment protection insurance. The bank also will set aside another £500 million to cover claims related to so-called interest rate hedging products sold to small businesses.

Last year, RBS said that it planned to create an internal “bad bank,” known as RBS Capital Resolution, to manage about £38 billion in troubled assets, including real estate loans made at the height of the housing bubble for properties now worth a fraction of the value. The bank reiterated that it expected to report impairments and asset-valuation adjustments associated with that strategy in the range of £4 billion to £4.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the House of Commons’ Treasury Committee, told The New York Times he wants to change the culture of RBS and repay the government as quickly as possible. But he has had to navigate a series of bad news and poor luck as he tries to turn around the bank.  “R.B.S. is still paying a heavy price for past misconduct. So too are its customers and taxpayers,”

For more on financial litigation, check out these articles:

Goldman Sachs will go to court over investor fraud

How risky are JP Morgan’s litigation claims for 2014? Analysts weigh in

Litigation exposure under the 2013 Dodd-Frank mortgage servicing regulations

Contributing Author

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Amanda Ciccatelli

Amanda G. Ciccatelli is a Freelance Journalist for InsideCounsel, where she covers intellectual property, legal technology, patent litigation, cybersecurity, innovation, and more. She earned a B.A....

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