One of Britain’s biggest banks is braced for a fine of up to £50million for an IT glitch which locked millions of customers out of the bank accounts.
The record penalty on Royal Bank of Scotland is expected to be levied by City watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority today.
Millions of customers of RBS, NatWest and Irish subsidiary Ulster Bank ensured a week of chaos in June 2012 when a software upgrade went spectacularly wrong.
The ensuing IT meltdown left customers unable to make or receive payments, with many hit with hefty charges for breaching their overdraft limits and not receiving their wages.
The scandal has already landed RBS with a £175million bill to compensate customers and pay overtime to staff as the bank was forced to extend opening hours at branches to sort out the mess.
Former chief executive Stephen Hester forfeited his bonus of up to £2.4million over the fiasco at a bank which is still 81pc owned by the taxpayer.
The fine – which is the biggest ever for an IT failure – comes just days after RBS was one of six banks fined £2.6billion for rigging the £3trillion a day foreign exchange market.
RBS was hit with a £400million penalty by UK and US regulators, with regulators publishing damning transcripts of its traders bragging about the conspiracy.
The IT failure has raised concerns about the state backed lender’s creaking computer systems which have continued to let down customers in recent years.
RBS suffered another systems outage in December on the busiest online shopping day of the year, the third time in about 18 months that such a problem had prevented customers from using cards, cash machines and online banking services.
It says it has been ploughing billions of pounds into bolstering its IT systems to help ensure that similar problems do not reoccur.
The lender recently pledged to invest an extra £1billion in its digital and IT services as it attempts to persuade more of its customers to bank online and on their mobile phones.
But it has repeatedly denied reports that the problems in the summer of 2012 were caused by workers in the Indian city of Hyderabad, where it set up an IT support centre to cut costs.
The results of its internal investigation into the source of the failure have yet to be published as it waits for the FCA’s verdict.
Last night one expert suggested RBS has escaped lightly.
David Buik from broker Panmure Gordon said: ‘Given the size of the trangression and the damage caused to customers this fine is nothing more than symbolic.
We are talking about a bank which could not even get the basics right – stuff that affects people in their day to day life. It’s little wonder there is a complete lack of trust between banks and their customers.’