The Financial Services Authority has admitted it was in the “public interest” to identify the main board directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland who they interviewed for their report on the events that led to the bank’s multi-billion pound taxpayer rescue, following a Freedom of Information request by The Guardian.
The FSA report into the run-up to RBS’s 45 billion taxpayer bailout in 2008 caused controversy when it was published in December 2011. Out of the 17 members working at that time on the board, three full-time executives and four non-executive directors did not provide personal accounts about the events that led up to the crisis to the FSA.
The FSA cited legal reasons for not disclosing the people it interviewed.
Among the omissions were key figures such as Larry Fish, the former head of US banking operation Citizens and one-time chairman of RBS America, Gordon Pell, the head of the retail bank, and Mark Fisher, appointed chief executive of ABN Amro after the takeover who moved to Lloyds on the weekend of the taxpayer bailout.
In response to the Guardian’s request, the FSA regulator explained why it was in the public interest to disclose the individuals who had been interviewed to produce the first 346 pages of the 452-page Board. It said: “One element is that disclosure will provide the public with assurance about the thoroughness of the way in which the FSA’s Board Report has been prepared.”
However the fact that seven executives were not interviewed at all may be less reassuring.