The Royal Bank of Scotland has today come out and apologised for the ‘minor glitch’ in its systems which caused it to almost crumble into bankruptcy and need a multi-billion pound bail-out from every UK taxpayer, with the possible exception of Jimmy Carr.
‘Prior to 2002 we’d check income and expenditure of all our potential customers for mortgages, loans and credit cards,’ said chief executive Stephen Hester, ‘but as a result of the glitch, the qualifying criteria became ‘pulse-based’. That is of course one of those highly complex terms used by the financial industry at the time to indicate who is eligible for a loan. To put it in words which laymen can understand; if customers could demonstrate a heartbeat, we had no problem giving them anything up to, oooh, half a million.’
As an example of how things went wrong and the lessons to be learnt, Mr Hester highlighted the case of a middle-aged man who was after an £18billion loan to buy ‘some Dutch stuff’. ‘He was fit, healthy, exceptionally virile and exactly the sort of investor we supported at the time,’ said Mr Hester, ‘he even drew up and signed all the paperwork on the deal himself, which saved everyone a whole lot of bother.’
However, as with many of the deals at the time, that one ended disastrously, leaving the man, known only as Fred Goodwin, struggling to get by on just £342,500 a year, for life.
Confident that the glitch has now been fixed Mr Hester outlined the new, stricter rules being followed by his bank; ‘Nowadays, regardless of any evidence of vital signs of life we will not lend to those who can’t pay us back, or those that can pay it back. In fact since the glitch has been fixed, it’s working so well that we haven’t lent a penny to anyone.’
All banks under the RBS umbrella have been affected, but the financial ombudsman has said the public should not be out of pocket.
‘Any taxpayer who has lost out financially because of these problems should keep a record of the personal cost to them and complain to the Ombudsman, who is likely to find in their favour,’ said a spokesman. ‘This will see about £17k going back into the pockets of every taxpayer in the UK, but there are some who can’t pay tax for some reason so won’t qualify for this rebate. In recognition of their plight and to give them at least some hope for the future, Gary Barlow’s been given an OBE.’