INVESTORS suing Royal Bank of Bank of Scotland have accused the lender of having “obscured” a bigger picture of wrongdoing linked to its controversial debt restructuring unit.

The state-backed lender has been dogged by allegations it intentionally pushed small businesses towards failure in the hope of picking up their assets on the cheap.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the City watchdog, is still investigating whether to take further action over the Global Restructuring Unit’s actions after publishing an interim report following intense political pressure.

Now RGL Management has issued a new report that claims mistreatment of business customers was an “RBS policy driven from the top” and only represented a “cog within the machinery of RBS”.

It claims reporting and investigations into the unit have focused too heavily “on symptoms rather than the cause”.

RGL, which was set up to sue RBS, said: “It is clear to us this has been very convenient for RBS and its apologists who have happily embraced a narrowing of scope to enable the reality and scale of what RBS did to its own SME clients to remain the subject of doubt, confusion and counter claims.”.

The accusations follow the release of previously undisclosed memos a day earlier, which shows GRG staff being encouraged to apply pressure and extract money from customers. One memo, entitled Just Hit Budget!, which was written in 2009 talks of applying particularly high interest rates, which could then be reduced if customers signed over a stake in their business or property, and detailed how staff sometimes “need to let customers hang themselves”.

It added: “You have gained their trust and they know what’s coming when they fail to deliver.”

But RBS boss Ross McEwan has insisted the memo was “written by a junior manager who is no longer employed by the bank”.

He added that “at no time did it form part of GRG or RBS policy” and said the language was “completely unacceptable”.

But RGL, says the “confusion” and counter claims around RBS’s now-defunct unit are a sign the “bigger picture may have been deliberately obscured”.

Its goes on to claim GRG was effectively a “killing floor” and used to process small businesses into cash for RBS, and that the bank is continuing to act aggressively and improperly to sideline victims’ claims.

RGL Management said: “RBS was driven into insolvency by incompetent, greedy, short- sighted management, and because its sur- vival was only partly subsidised by the UK taxpayer, it needed to raid the assets of targeted business customers to generate cash, indifferent to whatever destruction this wrought on its victims, saving itself at their expense.

“Note that the motive was the generation of cash and not of profits. RBS was utterly desperate for cash and incurring losses on liquidating lending to customers was a price they were willing to pay.”

A Treasury Select Committee hearing on January 30 will quiz Mr McEwan and RBS chairman Sir Howard Davies over the GRG.

In response to the report, RBS reiterated it was pleased the most serious allegations against the bank have not been upheld by UK regulators. A spokesman said: “We have acknowledged for some time mistakes were made and have apologised that we did not always provide the level of service and understanding we should have done for these customers in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

“Any customer who feels they were treated inappropriately while in GRG should make use of the complaints process.”