RBS sets aside US$515 million for looming forex fines
(Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland said it expects to settle with U.S. authorities investigating alleged foreign exchange manipulation in the coming weeks and set aside a further 334 million pounds ($515 million) to cover the cost.
The new charge takes the total set aside by RBS for future foreign exchange settlements to 704 million pounds. The bank was fined $634 million by British and U.S. regulators last November, being one of six institutions which paid out a combined $4.3 billion for failing to stop traders trying to manipulate currency markets.
RBS said on Thursday it was in advanced discussions over a settlement in relation to a criminal investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and other authorities, and expects to settle before the end of June.
Rival Barclays, which has yet to settle with any regulators over the matter, on Wednesday set aside another 800 million pounds to cover the issue.
RBS, 80 percent owned by the British government, remains hampered by a number of investigations into past misconduct, undermining its turnaround under CEO Ross McEwan who warned of another tough year as the bank grapples with a mammoth restructuring and the consequences of past misdeeds.
“There are still many conduct and litigation hurdles looming on the horizon and putting these issues behind us is a vital part of our plan,” McEwan said.
As well as foreign exchange, the bank still faces investigations into its treatment of struggling small businesses and its selling of bonds backed by residential mortgages (RMBS) in the United States. McEwan said he expects an RMBS settlement to come in the second half of the year.
RBS made an operating profit of 1.63 billion pounds in the first quarter, up 16 percent on the same period a year ago.
The improved performance was clouded by a number of one-off charges, resulting in RBS posting an attributable loss of 446 million, compared with a 1.2 billion pound profit a year ago.
It set aside 100 million pounds to cover compensation for the mis-selling of loan insurance and 257 million pounds for other customer compensation, primarily relating to paid-for accounts.
The bank took another 453 million pounds in restructuring charges, mainly on the reduction in the value of its properties in Stanford, Connecticut, where it is cutting the size of its U.S. investment bank.
($1 = 0.6483 pounds)