The Financial Conduct Authority and the National Crime Agency have been asked by MPs to investigate allegations that banks forged signatures on legal documents used to repossess people’s homes.
Nicky Morgan, chairwoman of the Treasury select committee, has written to the institutions demanding that they meet Julian Watts, founder of the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign. He claims to have evidence showing that British banks are forging signatures on court documents and loan agreements.
In the United States, banks including JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America have had to pay billions of dollars in settlements and fines after defective or forged documents were used as the basis for home foreclosures. The scandal came to light in 2010.
Mr Watts, 56, has shown a series of examples to The Times of markedly different signatures being recorded against the same name of the person within a bank responsible for signing key documents, such as those presented to a court when a lender is taking possession of a borrower’s home.
Steve Baker, a Treasury committee member, raised the issue with Andrew Bailey, the FCA’s chief executive, in a parliamentary hearing last month. Mr Baker said that he had been shown signatures and Mr Bailey responded that he was aware of the allegations and that “if you would like to bring the evidence to us, we will look at it”.
Ms Morgan has demanded that the FCA reviews Mr Watts’ evidence. Mr Watts said that he had identified 20 people in several banks all of whom appeared to have had multiple signatures used in their name. He added that he was collating more evidence and demanded that the Treasury committee begin an inquiry.
Spokesmen for the FCA and the crime agency said that they welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter.