Protesters outside the RBS (Royal Bank of Scotland) annual general meeting in Gogarburn, Scotland, as The World Development Movement call on the bank to stop investing in coal mining. | Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Royal Bank of Scotland executives have been reportedly accused by shareholders of “covering up” for “corporate psychopaths” in their controversial business support unit.

The furious attack came at the state-owned bank’s annual general meeting (AGM) today, following a report by entrepreneur Lawrence Tomlinson, who accused the bank of “killing off” small firms managed through its GRG business turnaround unit by adding on fees or pulling lines of credit. Another report by former Bank of England deputy Sir Andrew Large found that the GRG unit was being run to make profit, something that the Bank denies.

RBS shareholder Gavin Palmer used the bank’s AGM, held at its headquarters outside Edinburgh, to warn that the bank’s GRG unit was staffed by “corporate psychopaths” who were unable to admit to their wrongdoing.

Palmer went on to accuse RBS chairman Sir Philip Hampton, who defended the unit’s behaviour, of “covering up” the bank’s activities for years.

Another shareholder railed at the bank for the massive pay packets enjoyed by its staff, after paying out £3.4bn in bonuses in the past four years.

“How do we get out of spiral of all banks paying obscenely large bonuses and extremely large salaries?,” the bank’s executives were asked.

RBS will be set to pay executives only 100% of their salary in bonuses after the Treasury used the taxpayer’s 85% stake in the bank to block the idea. Bank chief Ross McEwan is in line for £1 million a year in “share allowances” that dodges the EU bonus cap, a tactic also used by other banks.

From 2014, executives will get up to 400% of salary through the share allowance and long-term incentives. “It is disappointing to see that the bank has found a way to circumvent the spirit” of the new EU rules, shareholder group Pirc said.