Ross McEwan is alleged to have “withheld information” from the influential Treasury select committee when he denied that he was aware of any criminal activity within the bank by its workers.
Six months later, The Times reported that Police Scotland were investigating criminal allegations in relations to a former employee of its RBS restructuring unit.
Mr McEwan, who now risks being hauled in front of MPs yet again, has defended his comments. In a letter to Treasury committee chairwoman Nicky Morgan, he said the activities in question fell outside the period under discussion at the hearing he attended in January.
RBS’ Global Restructuring Group (GRG) has been accused of pushing firms towards failure in the hope of picking up assets on the cheap, but was left off the hook in a recent ruling by the regulator.
The criminal activity being investigated by police is said to have taken place between 2014 and 2016.
“We would entirely reject the suggestion that the committee may have been in any way misled by the evidence that I gave during my appearance before you in January,” Mr McEwan wrote.
Nicky Morgan has described his explanation as “unconvincing”.
She said: “[The committee] expects clarity and openness from witnesses, and Mr McEwan’s evidence fell short of that standard.”
The MP went on to criticise the tone of Mr McEwan’s letter, and said the committee is “concerned by the pattern of defensiveness, and a failure to acknowledge mistakes, demonstrated by RBS throughout its handling of the GRG affair”.
Ms Morgan also claimed the letter “casts doubt on his assurances that RBS’ culture has changed fundamentally since he took up his position five years ago”.
Raising the possibility that Mr McEwan will be asked to provide further oral evidence, the MP warned the committee “will expect him to tell the whole truth, not an edited version to suit him”.
In theory, anyone seen to be lying in evidence to a select committee could face a substantial fine or prison, though this has rarely been enforced.
Mr McEwan said he was “disappointed” by the committee’s response.