RBS chief Fred Goodwin likened to victims of the Nazis by senior Scottish financier

SIR Angus Grossart, one of Scotland's most senior financiers, has defended RBS chief Fred Goodwin and compared the way he was treated after the banking collapse to the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis.

Goodwin, the former chief executive of RBS, had the windows of his Edinburgh home broken at the height of the banking crisis by unknown attackers.

At the time, RBS had to be bailed out by the government to the tune of 20 billion to keep it afloat and head off a crisis in confidence in the banking sector. In February, 2009, it posted the biggest loss in British corporate history, 24 billion.

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But, in an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Sir Angus - who chairs his own highly profitable private bank, the Noble Grossart bank, and accepted a role as the chairman of the Scottish Futures Trust, set up by the SNP government to deliver public spending projects such as new schools - said Goodwin was "a good friend" and they remained regularly in touch. "I think he's very sad at the way he was victimised. Shades of Kristallnacht."

Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, was an anti-Jewish pogrom in Nazi Germany in November, 1938, during which 91 Jews were murdered, thousands arrested and placed in concentration camps. 267 synagogues destroyed, and thousands of homes and businesses ransacked.

"Clearly, he (Goodwin] made a mistake," said Grossart, "as did most people in the financial world, most people in government, most people in regulatory organisations. There is no doubt he was going to be criticised, but I think there is a deliberate attempt to polarise the criticism, to some extent as a distraction, a scapegoat kind of thing. He has been stigmatised. A lot of people, including those in government, were also involved in mistakes and they did not have bricks thrown through their windows."

At the time, Goodwin and his family had virtually abandoned their home in the south of the city and he was living largely abroad. Earlier this year, it emerged that the banker, who originally left RBS with an annual pension of almost 700,000 (reduced after a political outcry), had bought a 3.5 million mansion in another part of Edinburgh.

Grossart's comments will be seen as part of a bid to rehabilitate the former RBS boss in the Scottish business world. Although he is currently working as a consultant to a Scottish architectural firm, RMJM, he has not yet re-entered the financial sector.

But Jeremy Purvis, a Lib Dem MSP. said: "I don't think this is a valid comparison. No-one condoned the attacks on the property or the concern for the safety of Fred Goodwin's family. But what people high up in the banking community have to understand is that the vast majority of people in this country will be living with the consequences of the banking failure for years to come and the anger over banking practices and the pay and conditions remains palpable. In no way can that be compared with Nazi persecution."

The interview reveals that while Goodwin was being branded "the world's worst banker" Noble Grossart was seeing profits increase.

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