The Financial Conduct Authority has hit back at accusations from a police chief that it is allegedly sitting on evidence of UK banks forging signatures on what he called an ‘industrial scale’.
Anthony Stansfeld (pictured), police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, had accused the FCA — alongside the Serious Fraud Office and the National Crime Agency — of not taking appropriate action regarding evidence he believes it had access to for the past eight months.
He told The Times the government agencies “sit on things” and “pass the buck so no one takes responsibility”.
Mr Stansfeld also told the paper that both bank officials’ and customers’ signatures had been forged on occasions while statements and documentation had been altered to the banks' advantage.
He added: “A mass of irrefutable evidence for this has been with the SFO for eight months and as far as I am aware [they have done] nothing about it.”
But the regulator said it was "simply untrue" to suggest it had sat on mass evidence of fraud within banks.
An FCA spokesperson said: "It demonstrates a lack of attention to the enforcement actions taken by FCA.
"The FCA has spoken to Anthony Stansfeld about claims of signature forgery and asked to see material supporting these claims and will act where the evidence supports doing so.”
Mr Stansfeld’s concerns came just two months after the FCA was urged to investigate potential criminal activity at banks by the then-chair of the Treasury select committee, MP Nicky Morgan.
Ms Morgan published an open letter to the FCA boss Andrew Bailey on July 9 requesting the regulator engage with the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign to investigate allegations which had been raised by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
According to the BBC, forged 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.
The allegations referred to UK Asset Resolution — the holding company of the government owned NRAM (formerly Northern Rock) and Bradford & Bingley businesses — as well as Mortgage Express and Lloyds Banking Group, but the companies strongly deny the allegations.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Fair Business Banking also stated the group had received “frequent and consistent representations” from constituents concerned over possible signature fraud and also urged government agencies to act appropriately on such concerns.
Both the APPG and Mr Stansfeld publicly supported the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign which aims to "expose alleged industrial-scale signature forgery on banks court documents in cases against customers".
An SFO spokesperson said: “We are aware of the allegations and have been assessing whether this is a matter that fits the SFO’s remit to investigate. We will continue to assess any further material we receive.”
Meanwhile a spokesperson from the NCA said both The National Economic Crime Centre and FCA met with Anthony Stansfeld and others to discuss this issue on August 23.