The Royal Bank of Scotland employee at the centre of an alleged affair with Sir Fred Goodwin, its former chief executive, played no part in important strategic decisions at the bank, according to an internal investigation.
RBS launched an inquiry into the role of the senior staff member when details first emerged about the alleged relationship with Sir Fred in March.
People familiar with the probe said it focused on whether the employee, who remains at the bank, was involved in any key decision-making work, such as the bank’s acquisition of ABN Amro, judging credit risk, assessing regulatory issues or conducting internal audits.
“We have only known about this for several weeks, and as soon as we did know we conducted an investigation,” said one person familiar with the process. “We are satisfied the employee in question did not compromise the bank in any way.”
The comments follow concerns raised in parliament that the alleged affair would be a serious breach of corporate governance at the bank, which is now 83 per cent owned by the taxpayer.
However, the person with knowledge of the internal investigation said it was “slightly ludicrous” to suggest that Sir Fred’s decision-making capacity had been impaired by an extramarital affair. “There is no suggestion that he spent day after day locked away in a secret bolt-hole,” he said. “He went on holidays, he had hobbies. This was comparable.”
It is not believed Sir Fred or the woman in question disclosed the alleged relationship to their superiors – neither Sir George Mathewson nor Sir Tom McKillop, who both held the role of chairman when Sir Fred ran the bank, were told.
Similarly, the Financial Services Authority is not thought to have had prior knowledge of the alleged affair and only last week decided to seek further information, which will be included in its investigation of the bank’s failure.
Details of the alleged relationship emerged last week after Lord Stoneham, the Lib Dem peer used parliamentary privilege to refer to it in the House of Lords. Later an injunction obtained by Sir Fred was partially lifted, although the name of the woman said to be involved still cannot be reported. Lawyers for Sir Fred went to the High Court on Monday about an article published in the Daily Mail, that they claimed had enabled people to identify the woman.