And he slams former chief executive Fred Goodwin, who presided over the bank’s demise, for failing to show any “contrition” over the downfall.
He described the banks’ “plush £350 million headquarters” at Gogarburn on the outskirts of Edinburgh as being “the size of a small village” with cafes, auditoriums, a swimming pool and even space for a golf course at the back.
Mr Goodwin, who was stripped of a knighthood, was a “self-made man” who Mr Brown first knew as an accountant involved in privatising the Rosyth dockyard. But Mr Brown said: “Over the years I saw him change. By the time the bank collapsed he had from his company a private suite in the Savoy costing £700,000 a year, a fleet of 12 chauffeur-driven Mercedes limousines with RBS emblazoned all over them, and he regularly used a private jet at the weekend – whether for boar hunting in Spain or following the glamorous F1 circuit around the world.
“Every year £1m was paid out to each of RBS’s ‘global ambassadors’, including Sir Jackie Stewart, Jack Nicklaus (whose image was on one of the bank’s commemorative £5 notes), and Andy Murray (who, to his credit, would volunteer a cut in his payment) as part of an estimated £200m sponsorship budget.”
And the fatal takeover of Dutch bank ABN Amro was undertaken without the “necessary checks” that would have revealed it was riddled with sub-prime debts. “With too little capital in the first place, funding was about to dry up,” Mr Brown added. “Yet at no point did I ever hear Fred Goodwin express real contrition to me – or to anyone else – for his role in the bank’s collapse.”