10 Things You Didn’t Know About RBS

10 things you may not have known about the bank you own:

We own 84% of RBS. They’ll be announcing their profits this week, and UK Uncutters across the country will be sitting in branches to remind everyone who it is that caused this crisis – and who is paying for it. But I thought I’d do a quick guide to some stuff you might not have known about RBS.

1) As of January 2009, the RBS group were (by assets) the biggest company on earth.

2) According to a report by CAS Business School expert Nick Silver, RBS is responsible for financing projects and companies delivering 3% of globl carbon emissions – more than the entire UK.

3) According to a 2008 report by War on Want, RBS were the main bankers to 4 major arms companies, including BaE systems.

4) The RBS group owns a bunch of companies, including:
Ulster Bank
Direct Line
Citizens Financial Group
Coutts & Co.
Adam and Company
Child & Co.
RBS Securities
Churchill Insurance

5) RBS subsidiary Citizens Financial Group – itself the 8th largest bank in the USA, and is under investigation for its role in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

6) RBS Subsidiary Coutts & Co; are private bankers to the mega-rich, who specialise in helping them dodge tax – as their website says::

“Our tax team works closely with your private banker to understand your particular situation so that you receive bespoke advice tailored to your circumstances.

Whether you are an entrepreneur selling your business, an executive with complex share schemes, a non-UK domiciled individual living in the UK or simply looking to structure your affairs more tax efficiently, the tax team can assist”.

Yes, that’s right, a bank that’s 84% owned by the government is specialising in helping the mega-rich avoid paying taxes to the government.

Other subsidiaries – Adam and Company and Child and Co – are also solely for ‘high net worth individuals’. Adam and Company also offer tax advice, while Child & Co seem to be so exclusive, that I can’t find their website!

7) In 2009 (after the bail-out) RBS provided tens of millions in finance for Irish Company Tullow Oil to explore for oil from an island on lake Albert, whose ownership is claimed by both Uganda and the DR Congo – a region that has seen millions die in a resource fuelled war in recent years. When oil was discovered, troops were mobilised on both sides and the media and human rights observers were not allowed access. Tullow’s partners, Heritage Oil, then (according to the UN) armed these troops with speed boats and land-rovers. Despite widespread outcry from human rights groups, publicly owned RBS co-ordinated another round of financing of nearly £1 billion for this project in 2010.

8. RBS are one of the main targets of the campaign against depleted uranium, because of their significant role in financing the stuff.

9) According to Amnesty International: “The Royal Bank of Scotland, together with other well known high street financial institutions such as Barclays and HSBC, are providing investment to the tune of around £800 million to the producers of cluster bombs”

10) Last year’s RBS Bonus pot was £1.3 Billion.

Yes: that’s right. This is the bank that the government owns 84% of – that we own 84% of.

See also The Oyal Bank of Scotland.  This was first published over at Bright Green Scotland

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  1. George Mackin says:

    If information is priceless then this article is worth its weight in gold. Money does not talk it swears and in the case it’s foul polluting language in our name.

  2. Vronsky says:

    As Jim Devine might say, that’s incredulous.

  3. the Knee says:

    This has irked me for some time, the fact that we “own” RBS. What does this mean, our supposed “ownership”? Can we not take advantage of this public ownership of the bank? Can we act in effect like majority shareholders? Can we make demands of RBS in terms of how we want to see it run? For example insist on ethical investment, say by committing to renewable energy over fossil fuels, and withdrawl of investing in arms and funding private militia to take just two examples from the article above? I’m really interested to know if anyone can tell me if this is something that can be done. I’d rather seek some imaginative ways to take advantage of such “ownership” than my just posting a link to your post on Facebook so that everyone can blow off a bit of steam and then we just forget about it.

  4. Adam Ramsay says:

    Hello –

    @The Knee,

    the ownership structure is that the government’s shares are owned by a body called UK Financial Investments. They in turn are owned by the Treasury. If UKFI wanted to (ie were instructed by the government to) they could insist that RBS follow certain strategic policies. So, for example, RBS currently specialise in fossil fuel extraction. They could instead specialise in renewables (much more than they currently do). Or they could if they wanted, insist that they introduce a policy to ensure they were facilitating tax dodging. They couldn’t make operational decisions, so they couldn’t say ‘fund that wind farm’ or ‘don’t fund that project’.

    We took some of these points to a Parliamentary select committee hearing last year, at which Tim Yeo – Tory MP and chair of the committee, suggested that the Treasury should ‘sack the board’ of RBS because of the investments they have allowed.



  5. bellacaledonia says:

    This is good and useful on, er, financial collapse type issues: http://www.debtgeneration.org/index.php

  6. Vronsky says:

    “This has irked me for some time, the fact that we “own” RBS. What does this mean, our supposed “ownership”? ”

    Nothing, of course. It hasn’t been nationalised, so you don’t own it. It’s yours only in the very technical sense that the coins in Dick Turpin’s pocket were once in yours – but the rascal is off over the hill.

    Dick will be back. Again and again. Stand and deliver. You need to be OK with that.


    1. the Knee says:

      I am intrigued by the glimmer of potential in Adam’s response: “if government instructed it to”. Instructed by government as an expression of the will of the people? Then we need to start making demands and pressuring our political representatives.

  7. Tam Johnston says:

    Crikey even the aristocracy is writing for Bella Caledonia these days – Ramsay of Banff, formerly involved with Edinburgh University Student Association, and one of the heirs to the baronetcy!!!

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