Bank 'drove firms to the wall so it could gobble up their assets'

ROYAL Bank of Scotland drove small firms out of business to buy up their assets at rockbottom prices, a report claims today.

Government adviser Lawrence Tomlinson says he has a dossier of evidence proving the bank forced companies to default on payments so it could seize their property.

The tycoon's report has been passed to the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Mr Cable also passed it to former deputy Bank of England governor Sir Andrew Large, who is publishing a review of RBS lending to small firms today.

Mr Tomlinson's report focuses on the turnaround division at RBS, Global Restructuring Group. It deals with risky loans and can also scrap loan deals, impose higher interest rates and charge hefty penalties.

The report accuses RBS of referring firms to GRG for technical breaches of loan terms, such as filing minor financial details late.

They are then charged fees running into hundreds of thousands of pounds, the report claims, putting many out of business and allowing RBS to buy their assets on the cheap for its West Register property arm, Mr Tomlinson said.

One business said it had forked out £256,000 in fees alone. Another said RBS made it pay £40,000 to continue existing borrowing terms.

Mr Tomlinson said: "A perception has arisen that the intention is to purposefully distress businesses to put them in GRG and take their assets for the West Register at a discounted price."

RBS said it was "already committed" to an inquiry, following recommendations made by Sir Andrew. 

Daily Express: 25 October 2013  


Spanish king: Charles being left to 'wither'

KING Juan Carlos of Spain is to abdicate so that his son Felipe does not have to wait as long as Prince Charles for the throne.

The king, 76, reportedly told his household staff: "I don't want him to wither waiting as Prince Charles expects to in England. "I must give way. I have fulfilled my mission."

Rafael Spottorno, head of the royal household, added that the king said: "My intention was to rule a free and democratic country and that has been achieved."

Irritated Juan Carlos is handing over to Crown Prince Felipe, 46, after 40 years. He said that it was time for "a younger generation to step into the front line".

Said to be suffering poor health, the king presided over his last military parade yesterday before his son takes over.

Mr Spottorno was earlier reported to have said the king had been deciding whether to abdicate since his 75th birthday in January 2013.

Prince Charles at 65 is the oldest heir to the British throne for 300 years. He has been waiting for 62 years since becoming heir apparent at the age of three when his mother acceded to the throne in 1952, aged 25.

Royal historian Hugo Vickers said that the Queen is not likely to abdicate. He added: "She was pretty irritated when Queen Juliana of the Netherlands abdicated in the 1980s because monarchs should not abdicate."

He said that unlike King Juan Carlos, who has faced a slump in his popularity, the 88year-old Queen has showed no signs of slowing down. Fresh from a three-day visit to France for the 70th anniversary celebrations of D-Day, she then flew directly to the Derby on Saturday.

The royal palace in Madrid refused to confirm or deny Mr Spottorno's claims and a Clarence House spokesman declined to make any comment.



Sugar, not salt, is blamed for high blood pressure

THE key to avoiding high blood pressure is cutting down on sugar, not salt, a new study shows.

Research in The American Journal of Cardiology found a link between sugary drinks and a spike in blood pressure levels.

Dr James DiNicolantonio, the report's author, said: "Sugar, in the form of sugarsweetened beverages, has been shown to acutely spike blood pressure, leading to increased blood pressure variability. "This by itself, even without an increase in average blood pressure, is an independent predictor of cardiovascular events, particularly stroke."

Refined Dr DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas, also said reducing the amount of salt in processed foods is counter-productive. "If we cut the amount of sodium in potato chips, this very well may lead to us eating more chips in order to get the same amount of sodium," he said.

"Would the extra refined carbohydrates, transfats and other processed oils from the increased consumption translate into health benefits? Doubtful."

He cited evidence from an eight-week trial that found a high sugar intake significantly increased blood pressure. When studies funded by the sugar industry were excluded, the rise in blood pressure was twice the effect of that caused by salt.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, which is campaigning to reduce the amount of sugar in the diet, said its threat to public health had been underestimated.

He said: "We know that sugar does not provide any nutrients and there is growing evidence that it is an independent risk factor for many diseases. "The average Briton is consuming treble the upper limit of sugar recommended by the World Health Organisation.

"This is a public health emergency and the Government must act immediately to force the food industry to stop spiking our food with so much sugar."

Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, however, said the best way to avoid high blood pressure was through eating a balanced diet.

He said: "It is true as a nation we eat too much salt which increases the risk of high blood pressure.

"But in recent years our consumption has dropped, mainly due to the reformulation of food.

"We eat too much sugar - re-fined sugar especially has become a problem as it increases the risk of obesity and diabetes.

"I would not say it is one or the other - it is about having a balanced diet."

Daily Express:  15 September 2014