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Why Did Nathan Bostock Quit RBS in 2013?

Why Did Nathan Bostock Quit RBS in 2013?

Nathan Bostock was promoted to CFO of the whole of Royal Bank of Scotland Group on 1st October 2013. By 10th December, 10 weeks later, his sudden departure was all over the national news. Why did he quit his CFO role after just 10 weeks?

Let us start with a paragraph from the Santander website:-

Nathan Bostock was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Santander UK plc on 29 September 2014.
Nathan joined Santander UK as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director on 19 August 2014 from The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (“RBS”), where he was an Executive Director and Group Finance Director. He joined RBS in 2009 as Head of Restructuring and Risk and Group Chief Risk Officer.

This seemingly innocent piece of information looks routine. But it is not routine, and is not the full story. Not by a long piece of chalk.

Is the truth still the truth when it is not the whole truth, so help you God?

The missing information, and the reasons it is missing, is the subject of this article. Nathan Bostock, you see, was promoted to CFO of the whole of Royal Bank of Scotland Group on 1st October 2013. By 10th December, just 10 weeks later, his sudden departure was all over the national news. Why did he quit his CFO role after just 10 weeks?

The official story in the news outlets was this: the Santander role would turn into a CEO role for Santander UK very quickly, and would lead to massively more pay and bonuses. This, goes the conventional wisdom, was simply too good an offer to refuse. He was aggressively head-hunted by Santander and they would stop at nothing to hire him back there. Bostock had a good track record there since the days when it was Abbey National. It would be obvious to assume he thought of it as ‘home.’

I can tell you that this story was not believed by anyone at all when it surfaced just before Christmas 2013. It simply made no sense. If Bostock had been in discussions with Santander, why would he accept the CFO role at RBS? Is it credible that the Santander offer was made after he took up the CFO role? Possibly. But hiring a new CEO takes months and months. As stated above, Bostock did not even arrive back at Santander until August 2014 even though his departure from RBS was announced in December 2013. Why the delay? Why resign in December 2013 only to stay for a further 8 months? Was he on garden leave all that time? Possibly. But one way or another, there were just too many loose ends.

I have been looking for an answer to this conundrum on and off since 2014. This week, out of the blue, a credible source came forwards to help us join the dots. Usually in life, the most obvious and logical explanation is the truth. Money is often the answer, but the official story just did not ring true at all.

Here is what our source claimed.

On 25th November 2013, Laurence Tomlinson published his keenly-awaited report into dodgy conduct at RBS’s Global Restructuring Group known as GRG. Recall who was the Head of Restructuring and Risk, and Group Chief Risk Officer? One Nathan Bostock. On 2nd December 2013, just one week after Tomlinson, Bostock resigned at the start of a 2-day board meeting.

Suddenly, the pieces began to fit into place.

Even without knowing all of the details, it should be obvious that the man in overall charge of restructuring the non-core assets of RBS was also in charge of GRG. Of course, RBS strongly refuted the Tomlinson accusations and commissioned a white-wash report by their own legal team. Much later, Tomlinson was largely vindicated and GRG was shown to be deliberately pushing viable businesses into insolvency so that they could cream huge profits out of the wreckage. But at the time, only Private Eye were routinely reporting that GRG was in fact engineering defaults and business failures out of thin air for evil purposes. Some RBS staff even lied to the House of Commons Select Committees and were sacked. They claimed, laughably, that GRG was not run as a profit centre. Documents contradicted their assertions, as did many small business owners who had been shafted out of their businesses and homes by the bank. Ian Fraser’s book Shredded is very strong on these claims.

Given that GRG staff, and presumably Nathan Bostock, knew in fact that GRG had been deliberately profiteering from the failure of perfectly viable businesses, despite RBS’s strong denials, they also knew that one way or another, the truth would out. And whoever was around RBS when the truth did eventually come out would become as toxic as RBS’s commercial property loan book. And clearly, some of the businesses ruined by RBS were actually faulty. But a significant number were viable, and there are numerous accounts of bullying by the bank. The suicides of several builders in Northern Ireland caused unfavourable headlines there, and RBS had to account for its actions.

So this is our thesis: there is a more obvious and more logical explanation for Bostock’s very public and very sudden exit from RBS. He knew what was going on, and he didn’t want his name going through the GRG mud puddle. Very wise. Leaving when he did meant that he did not have to appear in the House of Commons, and others were sacked for lying to the government and MPs.

However, our source goes a step further. We cannot at this time corroborate the claim, but it is tantalising. Our source suggests that in fact, UKFI insisted that Ross McEwan, the new Group CEO of RBS, sacked Bostock. UKFI is the “arms’ length” body that manages the RBS shareholding on behalf of the UK government. There is no evidence for this that we have seen. But UKFI hadinsisted that Stephen Hester, CEO before McEwan, was terminated. They have previous. It is very plausible that they insisted that the board member with overall responsibility for GRG was sacked.

Did someone whisper in Bostock’s ear? Did he really go to Santander solely for a promotion and a pay rise? Was his departure entirely his own choice?

We make no judgement on this at all.

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