POLITICS
02/05/2014 10:27 BST | Updated 02/05/2014 10:59 BST

Royal Bank Of Scotland Profits Double To £1.6 Billion

Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ross McEwan, chief executive officer of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS), pauses as he addresses staff and customers to outline the bank's future strategy in London, U.K., on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. Royal Bank of Scotland Group posted its biggest full-year loss since receiving a government bailout in 2008 as McEwan outlined plans to shrink its investment banking and overseas operations. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

State-backed Royal Bank of Scotland said it doubled profits in the first quarter of this year but warned that past problems which have cost it billions of pounds are far from over.

The group, which is 80% owned by the taxpayer, said pre-tax profits rose to £1.64 billion from £826 million in the same period last year, but boss Ross McEwan said there are still "plenty of issues from the past to reckon with".

There were no new hits to cover past scandals or litigation, or major provisions such as the £4.8 billion hit it recently took to create a "bad bank" where it could hive off toxic assets.

The Treasury, which manages the taxpayer's stake in RBS, recently confirmed that it would not let the bank pay bonuses equivalent to twice executives' salaries, instead keeping them limited to just the same level as their pay.

However, the Treasury said it would let Lloyds, in which the taxpayer has a minority stake, double its bonuses due to its better financial position.

RBS admitted with its latest results that it would continue to be haunted by misdemeanours of previous years, which have seen the bank shell out billions of pounds over issues such as payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling.

It said: "The ongoing conduct and regulatory investigations and litigation continue to create challenges and uncertainties for RBS, as for other banks. The timing and amounts of any further settlements or redress remain uncertain."

RBS said it had seen a modest revival in lending volumes during the quarter, with improvements in UK retail and business banking while income from its markets business was lower as it shrunk its balance sheet. Costs also fell.

The trading update was the first since the group announced that it had tumbled to an £8.2 billion loss for 2013 and launched a mammoth overhaul to slash costs by £5 billion within three years.

Chief executive Ross McEwan said the latest figures showed the "great job" it could achieve while in a "steady state".

"But we still have a lot of work to do and plenty of issues from the past to reckon with," he added.

"Everyone at RBS is focused squarely on doing everything we can to earn the trust of our customers and in the process change the banking sector for the benefit of the UK."