Splitting up part-nationalized Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will be put forward as an option by lawmakers examining standards in British banking, political and industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Following is a summary of what the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was asked to look at and its work so far:
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The commission was asked to report on professional standards and culture in UK banking, taking account of investigations by regulators into the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor). It was also asked to look at lessons to be learned on corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for government policy.
The committee of lawmakers from Britain's lower and upper chambers of parliament is led by conservative Andrew Tyrie, who also chairs the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) which holds Britain's Finance Ministry to account. Tyrie brought five TSC members onto the commission and supplemented them with five members of the House of Lords, including former finance minister Nigel Lawson.
The commission has published four reports. The first two tackled structural reform, the third considered proprietary trading and the fourth addressed the failure of HBOS.
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On structural reform, the commission said Britain needs legislation that could break up banks if standards slip, because current reform proposals fall short of what is needed. It also said the government could set tougher rules for how much borrowing banks are allowed to take on.
On proprietary trading, it said a U.S.-style ban on Britain's banks trading with their own money was not needed and would be too difficult to enforce.
On HBOS, in its most hard-hitting report to date, it concluded the bank (now part of Lloyds ) was so badly run it would have failed even without the 2008 financial crisis and the regulator should consider banning its former bosses from the industry. Former boss James Crosby asked to be stripped of his knighthood four days later.
The commission is due to publish its final report on the industry in June, having taking evidence from witnesses in 73 sessions between September 21, 2012 and March 6, 2013. In that time, its members asked more than 9,000 questions and heard 161 hours of evidence from hundreds of witnesses.
(Compiling by Matt Scuffham; Editing by David Holmes)