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RBS may sue after accused of 'undermining small firms'

The Royal Bank of Scotland is considering legal action against the businessman behind a damning report that accused the taxpayer-backed lender of deliberately putting customers out of business for profit.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that the bank could have grounds to pursue a libel action against Lawrence Tomlinson after an inquiry into his allegations reportedly found no evidence to support claims that the lender’s turnaround unit had systematically engineered the collapse of small businesses.

In its report, Clifford Chance said it found “no evidence” to back up the most serious accusations made by Mr Tomlinson. Credit: PA

Jon Pain, the head of regulatory affairs at RBS, said: “The damage of the report has already been done and whether Mr Tomlinson offers any retraction or apology is a matter for him.

"These were the most serious allegations RBS has faced since the crisis and damaged RBS’s brand and undoubtedly harmed the value of the taxpayer’s interest.”

The law firm Clifford Chance on Thursday published the results of its investigation into the Tomlinson report which said it found "no evidence" to back up the most serious accusation.

Cable calls to 'tighten-up regime of rogue directors'

Business Secretary Vince Cable has called to "tighten-up the regime" of "rogue" directors, under new proposal to disqualify those convicted with overseas offences.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Cable said: "There are some nasty scams out there, we've had them around wine shops and land banks... a lot of people have been cheated out of a lot of money".

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British Gas denies staff bonus claims

British Gas has denied claims it paid its staff bonuses to inflate customers' bills.

According to the Daily Mail, a former employee said the policy encouraged staff to target charities and small businesses, with workers told they could triple their salary through commission if they sold enough of the most expensive deals as possible.

A general view of British Gas in Staines. Credit: PA

A British Gas spokeswoman said: "British Gas strongly refutes any suggestion that employees are paid commission on any prices charged to residential customers. This is a highly regulated and competitive market, every part of the sales negotiation process for business customers is closely monitored.

"We take very seriously any concerns raised by employees or customers, and our processes, as well as sales agents' terms, are regularly reviewed to ensure they are fair and appropriate."

Cable: 'Rogue' directors can cause huge amount of harm

Government proposals to implement more restrictions and punishments for so-called "dodgy directors" will protect Britain's economy, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said. He added:

The vast majority of directors in this country run their businesses in the right way. But some people have suffered unnecessary losses as a result of rogue behaviour.

Rogue directors can cause a huge amount of harm in terms of large financial losses, unnecessary redundancies and lifelong investments going down the drain. It is only right that we should put the toughest possible sanctions in place, make sure we stamp out unfair practices and deter those who are looking to act dishonestly.

Read: Government to crackdown on 'dodgy directors'

Government to crackdown on 'dodgy directors'

The Government is set to bring forward proposals aiming to implement more restrictions and punishments for so-called "dodgy directors".

Directors convicted of a commercial offence overseas would be banned from running British companies under the plans, Business Secretary Vince Cable said.

Vince Cable said the proposed changes would "protect the British economy" Credit: PA

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) said courts could also be asked by the Government to award compensation against a disqualified director, although the court would have the final say.

It is understood the measures are expected to be brought forward as part of the Government's legislative programme for the next session of Parliament, which will be outlined in the Queen's Speech on June 4.

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Hundreds more jobs set to go at Barclays

Barclays looks set to axe hundreds more jobs, mainly at its investment banking arm due to a strategic review that would be published on May 8.

The review is likely to mean hundreds of job cuts in addition to plans announced earlier this year by the bank to slash 12,000 posts.

The bank aims to cut hundreds of more jobs, mainly in its investment arm. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA

Chief executive Antony Jenkins wrote to all group staff this morning, saying the company would answer questions including how best to "simplify" its operations and which of its businesses it should "focus on and invest in".

Mr Jenkins warned staff that regulation and the wider economy were having a "significant effect on some parts of our business which we need to address proactively".

He added: "The future for Barclays will be as a strong, focused, international bank. And the investment bank will continue to be part of that mix".

More: Barclays to cut 7,000 UK jobs as bonus pool up 10%

Co-op boss: 'Thousands' of jobs to go from the group

The chief executive has admitted the Co-operative's 'disastrous' £2.5bn losses for 2013 means that "thousands" of jobs will go from the organisation.

Richard Pennycook said: "I wouldn't want to pretend that there won't be job losses. We have said that there will.

"I don't want to put a specific number on [fewer people working for the Co-operative] but it will be a smaller group, some thousands of people smaller than that.

"Some of those because of our colleagues, in businesses that we are selling, will be going with those businesses to new owners."

He said that the group would remain a "very significant" employer in two years' time, adding that within four weeks the organisation's AGM would reveal the "new shape of the group", and a "clearer idea of how it is going to look".

Read: Co-operative Group's £2.5bn loss is worst in its history

Co-op boss outlines cause of 'disastrous' 2013 results

The interim chief executive of the Co-operative said the group's losses arose principally from three causes.

Firstly, the continuing losses reported by the Bank as a result of the impairment of corporate loans, conduct issues and failed computer development projects.

Secondly, the write-off of our accumulated 115 year investment in the Bank following its emergency recapitalisation, in which we participated but in the process saw our shareholding fall from 100% to 30%.

And thirdly, a partial write-off of the goodwill created on the 2009 acquisition of the Somerfield food business following a strategic review of that business.

– Richard Pennycook chief executive of the Co-operative group

The final results for The Co-operative Group highlighted heavy losses that reflected:

  • Significant losses at The Co-operative Bank (“the Bank”)
  • Loss on reduction in Group’s shareholding in the Bank
  • Impairment of goodwill which arose on the Somerfield acquisition
  • Reduced sales in Food, impacted by disposal programme designed to focus business on its core convenience store chain
  • Increased central corporate costs

Read: Co-operative Group's £2.5bn loss is worst in its history

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