Britain's leading banks are facing new allegations of mis-selling complex financial products to hundreds of small businesses despite them having little knowledge of what they were buying, a Sunday Telegraph investigation has revealed.
All of the UK's major banks, including Barclays and HSBC, as well as taxpayer-backed lenders Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, are facing legal action which could lead to billions of pounds of damages for small and medium-sized businesses.
The businesses claim the banks profited at their expense from pushing them to take out highly complex interest rate derivatives.
Many of the claimants spoken to by The Sunday Telegraph said they were not aware of the significant costs attached to the products that were supposed to protect loans from upward movements in interest rates.
When interest rates plunged after the 2008 financial crisis, businesses were left facing significant bills, with some of the derivatives costing business owners hundreds of thousands to millions of pounds.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal that RBS was so concerned about the issue it launched an internal audit in January into its sale of interest rate derivatives to SME customers. It said this weekend that it was "satisfied" that sales "had been conducted in accordance" with its own its rules. Read More