Clifford Chance drafted in for RBS SME investigation

Clifford Chance partners Carlos Conceicao and Kelwin Nicholls have been hired by RBS to lead an investigation into claims that the bank forced small companies it owed money to into closure to make a profit.

The investigation was launched yesterday (25 November) after two reports, one by Sir Andrew Large and a second for business secretary Vince Cable by advisor Lawrence Tomlinson, into the Global Restructuring Group (RSG) raised allegations that the bank had deliberately wrecked small companies.

Large’s report, commissioned by the bank and published on Monday, said RBS had left itself open to accusations of conflicting interests from small firms which were forced into its restructuring division. He recommended a further investigation be undertaken.

This came after the publication of the Tomlinson Report, which included serious allegations from small businesses over the bank’s lending behaviour.

Conceicao and Nichoills, who are leading the case, are both stars at the firm – one is in ascendancy while the other has a longstanding reputation.

Conceicao – a former Lawyer Hot 100 lawyer (7 January 2005) – was promoted to head of market integrity at the Financial Services Authorty (FSA) in 2005. His 50-strong team was part of the regulator’s enforcement division responsible for insider trading and market manipulation. It made headlines by forcing FTSE oil giant Shell £17m for committing market abuse and breaching the listing rules- the biggest ever fine to be handed out by the FSA. 

He joined the magic circle firm as director of regulatory enforcement in 2006 (12 September 2006).

Nicholls was promoted to partner three years ago in the London office in a 22-partner promotion round (3 January 2011).

He has already taken on some big litigation, having acted for BNP Paribas in one of the year’s biggest cases over the alleged colossal fraud perpetrated by Maan Al Sanea, the Saudi Arabian billionaire (2 January 2011).

RBS has used the magic circle firm for much of its work in recent years. Last year real estate partner Andrew Forryan assisted RBS as senior debt provider on the disposal of its commercial real estate loans (30 January 2012). It also won work to carry out a review of an IT failure review at the company (30 August 2012).

The firm has also clung on to hotly contested panel spots at the bank which launched a review of its EMEA legal panel in May this year. Last year’s saw Allen & Overy, Ashurst and Linklaters awarded places as well as Clifford Chance (3 May 2013).

It followed news last year that the bank would be slashing panel appointments by 40 per cent (23 October 2012).