A CULTURE of bullying is being investigated at taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) after a whistleblower claimed that harassment is rife at the lender.

Private emails claimed that staff are subjected to personal intimidation, threats and humiliation – allegations involving two senior managers and linked to the troubled Amethyst project, the focus of a wide-ranging investigation by RBS.

It has been claimed that workers on Amethyst faced a two-pronged attack, one based on personal intimidation and another in which they were forced to change the outcomes of cases to manipulate figures sent to watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

One source at the bank with direct knowledge of the matter spoke on condition of anonymity. They said: “There is a persistent and normally deliberate misuse of power or position to intimidate, humiliate or undermine. It is all mentally, intimidation, manipulating you, by saying if you don’t do this, you will lose your job. Do it our way, even if it is wrong, as we are in charge, and do as you are told.

“Nothing has yet been done about the individuals. This is then interlinked with the overall bullying culture within the project and this is to do within the work itself.”

The whistleblower, who has reported the abuse to chief executive Ross McEwan and his heir apparent Alison Rose, has also cast doubt on the investigation being carried out by RBS, which he claimed is not independent.

Amethyst was set up to carry out complex investment reviews of independent savings accounts (ISAs), funds, bonds, pensions and tax planning products.

“Upper management bullied people into making decisions that they know are incorrect,” said the source. “If you don’t do exactly as told, even when you know it is wrong, they will just get rid of you, and have done so.”

The whistleblower has also offered to write a report into the project’s overall failings, but has been rebuffed by RBS.

A spokesperson for the lender commented: “RBS takes whistleblowing very seriously.

“The bank was made aware of a series of allegations in July, of which this is one, and is investigating them thoroughly. No conclusions have been reached at this stage but the appropriate action will be taken if any of the allegations are substantiated.

“Any instances of bullying are unacceptable. Staff engagement scores across the bank are at the highest level since records began over a decade ago, with more than 90% of our staff knowing how to raise concerns about employee wrongdoing or misconduct and agreeing that people are treated with respect regardless of their job.”