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Report: RBS lawyers asked former employee to destroy confidential documents

Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC's lawyers asked a former employee to destroy all confidential documents in his possession, according to a letter seen by Reuters, making him liable to prosecution from the U.S. Department of Justice, his lawyer claims.

In the letter to Victor Hong, British law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, acting on behalf of the bank, asked him to "permanently destroy" any confidential materials obtained during the course of litigation or through other means. The law firm also alleged that Hong uploaded the documents, related to a case settled by the bank in 2017, to the online library Scribd, in contempt of U.K. civil procedure rules and likely in violation of his severance agreement with the bank.

The documents related to a lawsuit against RBS by shareholders alleging that they were misled ahead of a £12 billion rights issue in 2008, the newswire said. Hong provided a witness statement against the bank in relation to the case.

However, Hong's lawyer, Meyer Suozzi English & Klein's Richard Corenthal, told the newswire that the letter failed to consider Hong's commitments under U.S. federal law and government subpoenas, due to submissions made to the U.S. Department of Justice's inquiry into mis-selling of residential mortgage-backed securities by RBS. It may also be a violation of the deferred prosecution agreements RBS signed previously in relation to allegations of manipulating interest rate and foreign-exchange benchmarks, lawyers unconnected with the case told Reuters.

RBS settled the MBS case May 9, agreeing to pay a $4.9 billion settlement.

The letter was reported to the U.S. DOJ on April 30, Hong told Reuters.

Hong resigned from RBS in November 2007, less than two months after joining as a managing director for risk management and head of fixed-income independent price verification at U.S. division Greenwich Capital.