The Financial Services Authority (FSA) report into the failure of British banking giant the Royal Bank if Scotland (RBS) is too secret to publish. Or so says the FSA.
The FSA have said that, due to the confidential nature of some of the content of the report, section 348 of the Financial Services and Marketing Act (2000) (FSMA) prevents them from publishing the report.
This comes after an 18 month long investigation by the FSA assisted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PWC) into the banking fiasco when RBS, under Sir Fred 'the Shred' Goodwin, made the disastrous acquisition of ABN Amro for £49 billion as well as a Â£12 billion rights issue.
This would almost certainly have led to the collapse of RBS except for the kind intervention of the taxpayer, who now owns about 83% of the bank.
Now we hear that no-one can see the report. And that also includes such worthies as the Chancellor and the current top management of RBS. All that the FSA did was issue a short statement , which ended "The FSA cannot publish the content of the RBS review as information gathered from the bank during the course of the review remains confidential under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA)".
George Osborne, the Chancellor, has ordered a review of the rules that cover the secrecy of such official enquiries and it seems that Vince Cable the business secretary, Andrew Tyrie the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee and Lord Myners the former City minister would like to see it published, at least in a redacted form.
But the best support for publishing has come from Sir Fred himself (who got his knighthood for services to banking by the way). He has said that he does not object the the report being published.
But the FSA still remains out on a limb. It says that it wants to be sure that if it publishes the report it does so within the FSMA legal exemptions allowed "for the purpose of facilitating the carrying out of a public function" or when "permitted by regulations made by the Treasury under this section".
There is a public function of getting at the truth one would think! Or maybe the FSA would like this report, which possibly says as much about them as RBS, to go away.
There seems to have been more furore over the recent decision by FIFA than there has over this, which is far more expensive. Do you remember the look on David Cameron's face directly after he found his team had been thoroughly outplayed? Let's see that passion brought to bear over thus affair.
Change the law if need be and get thus report published in its full and un-redacted form. And then make sure the FSA publishes the reports due on HBOS and Bradford and Bingley.