The Financial Conduct Authority has defended the banks over their running of the 'swap' loan mis-selling review.

The FCA said SMEs had nothing to fear from the review, which the banks are conducting under the regulator's supervision, and which in 15 months has concluded barely 30 out of almost 30,000 cases.

The Herald reported yesterday that banks were using lawyers and £1000-a-day ex-bankers to conduct their reviews, but discouraging SMEs from seeking expert help, then suggesting they take advice if their complaint was rejected. Glasgow-based claims firm Veritas Treasury said the banks were adopting an adversarial approach to the review, adding to similar criticism by Edinburgh-based legal experts MBM Commercial.

David Cross, from the FCA, claimed businesses did not have to prove mis-selling. "If you bought an interest rate swap, automatically your case will be reviewed by your bank, there is no need for you to prove it, the bank's independent reviewer will look at that for you."

He said the presence of lawyers in a meeting was not a cause for alarm. "Lawyers are not there to interrogate," he said. "They are trying to get your side of the story." No business would be eliminated from the review as a result of its interview.

Mr Cross said claims firms had a vested interest in arguing that SMEs needed third party help. "The whole system is supposed to be designed to make sure people who are owed money get it as quickly as possible, without a need to ship out any of the money... in third party costs."

Veritas and MBM say banks have set questions aimed at minimising redress.