Allegations that banks forged signatures and fabricated evidence in court proceedings to rehabilitate homes are facing criticism from the National Crime Agency for failing to investigate.
Lawmakers called on the NCA to investigate the matter a year ago after an investigation by BBC News.
The NCA found evidence of at least 19 boxes related to 363 incidents.
But anti-corruption campaigners and lawmakers say the victims have not been contacted and an investigation has not begun.
The NCA said it was conducting a “detailed assessment” of the submitted material to determine whether a criminal investigation was needed.
“We are continuing to evaluate the content, including additional information provided in May 2020,” an NCA spokesman said.
“Together with partners in the FCA and SFO, we are conducting a detailed assessment to determine whether there is a basis for a criminal or regulatory investigation.”
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In July 2019, the BBC investigation found evidence of forgery of signatures in court documents used by banks and their representatives to restore.
Handwriting experts have confirmed that in many cases sent to the NCA the signature used under the same name could not be signed by the same person; And the same name was signed under different names.
Following the BBC’s investigation, the Treasury Committee called on the NCA to investigate the matter.
MPs say the extensive documentation submitted to the NCA supports the allegations, with banks denying that evidence has been fabricated or concealed in court proceedings to recover personal and business recoveries.
But anti-corruption campaigners say none of the hundreds of victims complained to the NCA.
‘We’re back in Hell’
For example, Anna Britton, 49, of Portsmouth, was forced to sell her home and return to her parents’ two-bed flat with her two daughters after a dispute with the bank over a business deal.
The three had to share a house and were homeless for more than three years. Anna says the trauma fatally turned her 12-year-old daughter into anorexia.
“We’re back in hell. When I realized I was brought in using a fake document, you think – you gave me 12 weeks to sell my house. You sold my furniture, you sold my clothes, you sold me. Baby teddy bears. You kept a bag with every one of our clothes. Destroyed every hope and dream of ours.
“I saw my daughter being tube-fed. She was hospitalized for three months, her heart rate was 33, her sugar level was dangerously low – we almost lost her. She is now 14 years old and still recovering from what she is doing.”
Since the bank accepted the business debts through the court, it relied on the personal guarantee document which Anna said she never signed. Personal guarantees allow banks to track a person’s personal assets, including their family homes, so that they can repay debts by business.
No original of the personal guarantee document was produced. Instead, what the bank’s lawyers said was a photocopy of the original document, which bears his signature, showing a £ 47,000 personal guarantee dated October 26, 2012.
Mrs Britton said the signature must have been photocopied from other documents. This document was signed by his financial advisor.
However, after the verdict against him, the financial adviser confirmed that he had stopped working for him by his date – and moved to Spain on October 21 for a two-week vacation. The flight ticket proved that he could not be present on the date the document was signed.
Unlike many of the defendants in the bank dispute, Anna did not afford legal representation and instead represented herself, losing her case against the bank’s final salaried group of solicitors and barristers.
‘Proper criminal investigation is needed’
Since the Treasury Committee sent a letter to the NCA last year, it has received 19 box files of documentary evidence collected by the Bank Signature Fraud Campaign in support of customers’ allegations, which they say amount to serious, organized criminal activity that must be investigated.
Yet campaigners say that since 2009, the NCA has failed to contact anti-corruption campaigners, including Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, Anthony Stansfeld, to contact any of the victims to investigate their claims.
“I think it’s remarkable that the banks have received so much detailed evidence of forged documents and signatures from the NCA. A year ago the Treasury committee asked them to investigate but they never started an investigation,” the BBC reported.
“And when they talk about ‘evaluating’, they give an excuse that they give. You can’t ‘evaluate’ for 15 months. There has to be a proper criminal investigation.”
In a letter to the NCA last year, the Treasury Committee called on the NCA to be personally involved with the online pressure group, the Bank Signature Fraud Campaign, which has gathered a large body of documentary evidence to prove fraud and forgery by banks and their representatives. Verbs
The campaign’s founder, former KPMG partner Julian Watts, said NCA director general Lynn Owens has repeatedly moved away from four pre-arrangements to discuss the evidence.
“The NCA seems to be ignoring calls from the Treasury Committee and our local police and crime commissioners to investigate the fraud of signatories in banks,” said Steve Baker, MP and member of the Treasury Committee.
“For these frauds my voters and people across the country could have spent their homes. It is important for our trust in our agencies to investigate and investigate these serious allegations by the National Crime Agency.”
“But the NCA didn’t investigate properly. It’s not good enough and I’m asking the NCA to investigate now – or to explain why not.”
Asked for a statement from the bank’s trade body about the evidence, UK Finance said: “Fraud is a criminal offense and the bank will be vigilant against such fraud.
“We urge anyone with evidence of fraud to report it to his bank and to the relevant authorities.”
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