Scott Macnab: Wasted millions of RBS typical of bankers' largesse
And he slams former chief executive Fred Goodwin, who presided over the bank’s demise, for failing to show any “contrition” over the downfall.
He described the banks’ “plush £350 million headquarters” at Gogarburn on the outskirts of Edinburgh as being “the size of a small village” with cafes, auditoriums, a swimming pool and even space for a golf course at the back.
Mr Goodwin, who was stripped of a knighthood, was a “self-made man” who Mr Brown first knew as an accountant involved in privatising the Rosyth dockyard. But Mr Brown said: “Over the years I saw him change. By the time the bank collapsed he had from his company a private suite in the Savoy costing £700,000 a year, a fleet of 12 chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousines with RBS emblazoned all over them, and he regularly used a private jet at the weekend – whether for boar hunting in Spain or following the glamorous F1 circuit around the world.
“Every year £1m was paid out to each of RBS’s ‘global ambassadors’, including Sir Jackie Stewart, Jack Nicklaus (whose image was on one of the bank’s commemorative £5 notes), and Andy Murray (who, to his credit, would volunteer a cut in his payment) as part of an estimated £200m sponsorship budget.”
And the fatal takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro was undertaken without the “necessary checks” that would have revealed it was riddled with sub-prime debts. “With too little capital in the first place, funding was about to dry up,” Mr Brown added. “Yet at no point did I ever hear Fred Goodwin express real contrition to me – or to anyone else – for his role in the bank’s collapse.”