30/03/2010

RBS Fined £28m

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has agreed to pay a fine of almost £28.6m after admitting breaches of competition law.

The fine was reduced from £33.6m following an admission of improper practises during October 2007 and February or March 2008.

An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found that individuals in RBS's Professional Practices Coverage Team had unilaterally disclosed generic as well as specific confidential future pricing information to their counterparts at Barclays Bank.

The OFT also found evidence that the information was taken into account by Barclays in determining its own pricing.

The matter was brought to the OFT's attention by Barclays under the OFT's leniency policy, where a company which is the first to report its participation in an infringement may qualify for immunity from penalties.

An OFT spokesman said Barclays is not expected to pay a fine in this case, provided it continues to co-operate.

The disclosures by RBS took place in the course of a number of contacts on the fringes of social, client or industry events or through telephone conversations.

The information concerned the pricing of loan products to large professional services firms, such as solicitors, accountancy and real estate firms, in respect of which RBS and Barclays are the main providers.

As well as general disclosures on future pricing, the investigation found that RBS had supplied specific confidential future pricing information in relation to two proposed loan facilities.

Ali Nikpay, OFT Senior Director of Cartels and Criminal Enforcement, said: "Any company that discloses confidential future pricing information to its competitors risks a substantial penalty.

"It is important that companies operating in the UK understand the seriousness of such conduct and ensure effective competition compliance throughout their organisation."

(PR/GK)

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