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RBS boss heads to Norfolk insisting that the bank is open for business.

PUBLISHED: 13:59 25 January 2014 | UPDATED: 14:01 25 January 2014

Ian Cowie chief executive business and commercial banking at RBS

Ian Cowie chief executive business and commercial banking at RBS

Archant

The head of commercial banking at state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland headed to Norfolk yesterday insisting that the bank was open for business.

Ian Cowie, chief executive business and commercial banking, met with 15 customers during a visit to Norwich which also included a roundtable session with Norfolk Chamber officials and senior lawyers and accountants from around the county.

The bank has come under fire in the wake of a report by Lawrence Tomlinson claiming that the bank deliberately forced companies into default to seize their property, while its own commissioned review by Sir Andrew Large said there was some plausibility in the claims because of the structure of the bank and its turnaround division Global Restructuring Group (GRG).

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Norfolk businessman Andy Keats was among those providing evidence to the Tomlinson report in the wake of what he called a “crazy” decision to force the closure of his business Keepsafe in Dereham.

Mr Cowie said he had not specifically come to Norfolk to meet any of those businesses affected.

“It’s about understanding what’s happening out there a the moment and supporting the team locally,” he said. “For my part its about making sure we are getting the message across that we are open for business. This region is a really important area for us.

“I have not asked to see happy or sad customers. What I have asked to see is a cross section to customers that have worked with us and people that aren’t customers that are thinking of becoming customers. I didn’t come to talk to anyone specifically and I don’t have the specific details of who was involved or wasn’t involved.”

With the economy showing signs of picking up he also said the bank was keen to get its message across that it was ready to lend. “We are going to try and support customers,” he added. “We have changed ourselves. We know we can do better – we are here in the local community understanding what’s going on.

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