UK Govt facing claims of breach of market rules as RBS confirms no job losses if Yes

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  By G.A.Ponsonby

Contingency plans announced by RBS in the event of Scottish independence will not affect jobs or operations north of the border, the banking giant has confirmed.

First Minister Alex Salmond has today welcomed the confirmation from Royal Bank of Scotland chief executive Ross McEwan – in a letter to staff – that the bank has no intention of moving operations or jobs from Scotland following a Yes vote in next week’s referendum.

The confirmation followed fevered media speculation over the impact of independence after the bank announced its intentioon to register its company in England.  However claims that the announcement would hit the Scottish economy were dispelled when the bank published a memo to staff stating that operations and jobs would not be impacted.

In the memo, RBS chief executive said:

“It is my view as Chief Executive that any decision to move our registered headquarters should have no impact on everyday banking services used by our customers in Scotland and the rest of the British Isles. This is a technical procedure regarding the location of our registered head office. It is not an intention to move operations or jobs.

“Our current business in Scotland, including the personal and business bank, IT and operations, human resources and many other functions, are here because of the skills and knowledge of our people, and the sound business environment. So far, I see no reason why this would change should we implement our contingency plans.”

The RBS CEO also apologised to staff who had learned of the contingency through the media, and added: “It is always my aim to ensure we inform our staff about such issues at the earliest opportunity. I know many of you will have already heard about this first in the media. My apologies for that, on this occasion this was unavoidable.”

The memo was highlighted by Alex Salmond in a radio interview after the BBC had suggested the announcement by RBS could have a significant impact on the Scottish economy.

The announcement of the contingency plan was first reported by the BBC.  In an online article late last night, a reporter from the broadcaster revealed the information on RBS had been provided by a UK Treasury official.

Newsnet Scotland has learned that First Minister Alex Salmond is to write to the Prime Minister and the head of the UK civil service regarding what may be a breach of financial regulations by the Treasury on RBS ahead of any formal notice to the financial markets.

It is also claimed that releasing market sensitive information would also appear to be a breach of referendum rules preventing Government involvement in political campaigning.

Mr Salmond said:

“The confirmation from the chief executive of RBS that they have no plans to move operations or jobs from Scotland following a Yes vote is a very welcome one which brings a measure of much-needed common sense to the debate.

“From the chief executive’s letter to staff it is clear that the bank is totally committed to a long-term future in Scotland.

“However, the briefing around RBS’s intentions – attributed to Treasury sources – would appear to be a serious breach of financial regulations, and that is why I am writing to the Prime Minister asking for an investigation of the leak of partial information ahead of RBS’s own announcement.  Likewise, the Treasury’s actions appear to be a serious breach of referendum rules on government activity before the vote, and that is similarly worthy of investigation.

“The Treasury briefing is all part of a panicked Westminster effort to shore up a collapsing No vote as people all across Scotland turn their back on the scares and fears of the No campaign and turn in huge numbers towards the positive aspirational vision of a Yes vote.”

The role of the BBC in releasing the information relating to RBS led to BBC correspondent Nick Robinson apparently heckling the First Minister at an international news conference after Mr Salmond highlighted his concerns over the possible breach of market rules.