Financial Conduct Authority 

FCA urged to probe signature fraud at banks

FCA urged to probe signature fraud at banks

The Financial Conduct Authority has been urged to investigate potential criminal activity at banks after allegations emerged this week that some lenders had been forging signatures on repossession documents.

Chair of the Treasury select committee, MP Nicky Morgan, published a letter to the FCA boss Andrew Bailey today (July 9) requesting the regulator engage with a Bank Signature Forgery Campaign and investigate the allegations.

Ms Morgan also asked Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency, to do the same in a criminal capacity.

The move comes after the BBC reported in its Victoria Derbyshire programme that representatives from some banks were suspected of forging signatures on court documents in repossession cases.

According to the BBC, signatures of bank officials and legal representatives were found on documents such as statements of truth and witness statements that were part of repossession proceedings and submitted to the courts.

Mr Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, said he was aware of the practice — of banks’ paperwork being signed by somebody who is not the authorised signatory — and noted "it does get talked about" when speaking at a recent Treasury select committee evidence session.

Steve Baker MP, speaking in the same session, said: "I have been shown various signatures that demonstrate that it is clearly the case that within some institutions processes are taking place where it appears that anyone is signing these documents.

"It does seem that it is therefore a fraudulent transaction."

The All Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Business Banking has since backed the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign.

The cross-party group stated it received "frequent and consistent" reports from constituents concerned over possible forgery of signatures and hoped this campaign would help gather vital evidence of possible signature forgeries by UK banks in court documents.

The Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Police has also announced his support for the campaign.

Banks in other countries have been exposed for industrial-scale forgery of signatures on court documents.

For example, an investigation in the United States prompted a review of more than 4m court cases against customers and the court ordered penalty payments of $25bn (£20.6bn).

The Bank Signature Forgery Campaign is encouraging consumers who have received a bank court document — such as witness statements and certificates if service — from any UK bank to send a photocopy of the bank signature to the campaign. 

imogen.tew@ft.com

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