RBS lost a colossal £2 billion and this massive set of legal issues is threatening to wreck the bank

The future for the Royal Bank of Scotland looks unbelievably bleak if a number of issues are not resolved in the bank’s favour.

And in the group’s 2015 results statement, the bank didn’t sugar coat what the fallout could be.

That includes being embroiled in a number of investigations and being subject to government actions. It also warned about the adverse impact the EU referendum will have if Britons vote for a Brexit on June 23.

But it is legal issues that killed the bank’s balance sheet last year and it’s only going to get worse.

In 2015, it lost £1.979 billion. in 2014 it lost £3.470 billion.

It’s all pretty depressing.

Here are some of the highlights, or lowlights, from the statement around the existing investigations it is involved in (emphasis ours):

The Group is subject to a number of legal, regulatory and governmental actions and investigations. Unfavourable outcomes in such actions and investigations could have a material adverse effect on the Group’s operations, operating results, reputation, financial position and future prospects.

In the past eight years, the Group has dramatically downsized and simplified the scale and complexity of its operations as compared to its operations preceding and during the financial crisis. However, the Group’s operations remain diverse and complex, and the Group operates in legal and regulatory environments that expose it to potentially significant litigation, civil and criminal regulatory and governmental investigations and other regulatory risk. The Group has settled a number of legal and regulatory investigations over the past several years but continues to be, and may in the future be, involved in a number of legal and regulatory proceedings and investigations in the UK, the US, Europe and other jurisdictions.

The bank also outlined where the lawsuits and government comes from, it includes:

  • Ongoing reviews, investigations and proceedings (both formal and informal).
  • Those are being conducted by “governmental law enforcement and other agencies and litigation (including class action litigation).”

Those are related to matters related to, as detailed in the statement:

  • The offering of securities.
  • Conduct in the foreign exchange market.
  • The setting of benchmark rates such as LIBOR and related derivatives trading.
  • The issuance, underwriting, and sales and trading of fixed-income securities (including structured products and government securities).
  • Product mis-selling.
  • Customer mistreatment (including alleged mistreatment of small and medium enterprises by RBS’s Global Restructuring Group, as alleged in the November 2013 report by Lawrence Tomlinson).
  • Anti-money laundering, sanctions, and various other compliance issues.
  • In the US, ongoing matters include various civil and criminal federal and state investigations relating to the securitisation of mortgages, as well as the trading of various forms of asset-backed securities.
  • “The Group continues to cooperate with governmental and regulatory authorities in these and other investigations and reviews,” said the bank.

RBS said that the outcomes from these investigations and reviews are unknown and”the timing and amount of fines or settlements, which may be material, are often difficult to predict, particularly in the early stages of a case or investigation.”

In other words, they have no idea when this nightmare will be over.

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