The UK’s major high street banks of perpetrating “serious organised crime” against their customers, potentially causing billions of pounds of losses over at least a decade by forging signatures to win court cases and repossess homes.
Anthony Stansfeld, police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, said that the National Crime Agency must launch a criminal investigation immediately and that it was a “national scandal and embarrassment” that it had not done so already. Stansfeld said he had reviewed evidence of signature forgeries which was provided to Lynne Owens, director general of the NCA, in September and November last year. Stansfeld said that the evidence of criminal activity was “clear and compelling”.
“Lives have been destroyed, families evicted, people have been bankrupted. This has been happening for at least a decade, potentially on an industrial scale. The economic loss to customers could run into billions.”
The allegations centre around bank documents for debt collection and repossession orders. Scores of victims have come forward to allege that documents which banks have submitted to court appear to have signatures which have been forged.
Conservative MP Steve Baker said previously he had seen evidence that bank employees had signed documents authorising home repossessions even though they did not have authority to do so.
“I have been shown various signatures that demonstrate it is clearly the case that within some institutions processes are taking place where it appears that anyone is signing these documents. Whether or not the repossession is justified, it does seem that is therefore a fraudulent transaction.
The House of Commons Treasury Select Committee was made aware of the allegations last year. In June, it heard evidence from then-FCA boss Andrew Bailey who said he was aware of the issue. The Treasury Select Committee asked the NCA and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in July last year to investigate signature forgery. Almost a year later, victims have expressed frustration about the lack of progress.