Morning papers: RBS losses exceed £46bn bailout

Royal Bank of Scotland has lost all of the £46bn of taxpayer money it received six years ago when it came close to collapsing, the Telegraph reports.

The paper says the bank has confirmed it made a loss of £8.2bn last year, bringing its total losses since its bailout up to the same amount which was pumped into it in 2008 in return for a stake of 81 per cent.

This means the capital provided by the taxpayer has now been used up by the bank in dealing with its toxic legacy assets.

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The Financial Times reports RBS faces another five years of restructuring and upheaval following the sixth consecutive year of losses, despite setting aside £576m for bonuses to employees.

Ofgem: energy firms must pay back £400m

Energy regulator Ofgem has called for energy providers to pay back refunds averaging more than £50 to millions of households, totalling £400, the Telegraph reports.

According to the paper, the “big six” energy suppliers have built up this amount over the past six years from customers who switched suppliers or moved house.

Ofgem is investigating if suppliers’ policies and practices for returning money are fully compliant with current regulation, and firms could face fines if failings are uncovered.

Ukraine minister claims Russian invasion

Groups of armed men seized the two main airports in Crimea this morning (28 February) in a move that Ukraine interior minister Arsen Azarov claimed was an “armed invasion” by Russian military, the Financial Times reports.

Russian and Ukrainian media reported overnight that groups of men in uniforms and with automatic weapons had taken control of the airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol, the two main cities on the peninsula in Southern Ukraine which is dominated by ethnic Russians.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman of Russian president Vladimir Putin, declined to comment on the events, while Russia’s Black Sea fleet, based in Sevastopol, said its forces had not been involved in any action at an airport near the city, the Interfax news agency reported.

Elsewhere Russia said it was seeking talks with the International Monetary Fund and the G8 over potential financial aid to Kiev, as concern over the country’s parlous finances deepens.

Attack on EU austerity easing

German and Finnish finance ministries have issued a stinging rebuke of Brussels’ attempt to ease austerity demands on struggling eurozone countries, saying such flexibility improperly provided France and Spain with additional time to meet EU deficit limits, the Financial Times reports.

The rebuke, in an eight-page memo obtained by the paper, accuses the European Commission of using “a somewhat arbitrary approach” in granting the budget flexibility to Madrid and Paris, and suggests “a separate pair of eyes” is needed to ensure new budget rules are properly applied.