Evidence of criminal activity by banks to be probed by finance watchdog and National Crime Agency

BOSSES at the Financial Conduct Authority and the National Crime Agency have promised to work with the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign to analyse claims of criminal activity by the banks.

Supporters of the campaign include the Yorkshire MP Kevin Hollinrake, the co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fair Business Banking, who argues that Britain should copy other nations and investigate and expose bank signature forgeries.

Nicky Morgan, who chairs the Treasury Committee, has written to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Crime Agency (NCA), requesting that they investigate as appropriate. There have been allegations that home repossessions and other documents may not have been signed by the authorised signatory.

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Kevin Hollinrake MP

In the US all 50 state attorney generals have already investigated the “industrial-scale” forgery of bank signatures, according to Mr Hollinrake.

The Bank Signature Forgery campaign is encouraging personal and business customers who have received a bank court document from UK banks or finance companies to send it a photo or photocopy of the bank signature.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, was previously asked about allegations of potential criminal activity occurring at banks, in June, during an evidence session.

Nicky Morgan MP Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Steve Baker MP said previously that he had been shown some evidence that “in certain business processes, such as home repossessions, the act of delivering capacity for these business processes might mean that paperwork is signed by somebody who is not the authorised signatory within the bank before taking possession of someone’s home.

“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.

“Whether or not the repossession is justified, it does seem that is therefore a fraudulent transaction.

“Are you aware that this phenomenon may be happening? If so, what are you doing?”

Stock image for fraud or scam prevention

Mr Bailey said: “I am aware of it. Yes, it does get talked about. If you would like to bring the evidence to us, we will look at it.”

In a letter to Mr Bailey, Ms Morgan says: “During your recent appearance in front of the Treasury Committee, you were asked whether or not you were aware of the allegations of potential criminal activity occurring at banks, whereby home repossessions and other such documents are not being signed by the authorised signatory.

“You noted you were aware and asked to be forwarded any evidence.”

Ms Morgan letter adds: “Given the nature of the allegations, the committee requests that you engage with the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign directly to review the evidence they have, and that you take action as you think appropriate.”

Ms Morgan said she has written “in similar terms” to the Director General of the National Crime Agency.

An FCA spokesperson: ‘We take this issue very seriously and will engage with the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign to review any evidence they submit. We will take whatever action is appropriate and we will be happy to explain the outcome of our work’.

An NCA spokesperson said: “The National Economic Crime Centre acknowledges receipt of letters from Nicky Morgan and Kevin Hollinrake MP relating to alleged bank signature forgery. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the matter further.”

A spokesman for UK Finance, the trade body for the financial services sector, said in response to Ms Morgan’s letters: “Forgery is a criminal offence and banks will continue to be vigilant against such types of fraud.

The spokesman added: “We urge anyone with evidence of forgery taking place to report it to their bank as well as the relevant authorities.”