The APPG is building support for a new campaign to gather evidence of potential signature forgery by banks against their customers. A common thread amongst many of the cases that the APPG receives is suspicions around the signatures on legal documents from bank staff, but also the potential forgery of customer’s signatures.
Anthony Stansfeld, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley Police who was influential in securing the successful criminal prosecutions of the perpetrators of HBOS Reading fraud, has also announced his support for the campaign.
Kevin Hollinrake MP, Co-Chair of the APPG said: “It may seem that issues around signature irregularities are marginal, but this is about the rule of law and the fundamental principle that the ‘statement of facts’ presented to the courts must be correct. These processes of law cannot, and should not, be subservient to processes that ‘speed-up’ the repossession of property by financial institutions.”
The industrial-scale forgery of signatures on banks’ court documents in cases against customers has already been exposed as a national scandal in other countries. In the USA, an investigation by all 50 State Attorney Generals resulted in penalty payments by US banks of USD $25 billion and a review of 4 million court cases by banks against customers. The US Department of Justice described the penalty payments by banks as “the largest consumer financial protection settlement in United States history”.
In Australia, the Royal Commission documented evidence of signature forgery at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank, Bendigo Bank and Commonwealth Financial Planning. It was also revealed that the falsification of signatures was common practice at the National Australia Bank.
In the UK, the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign is gathering evidence to determine whether the systematic forgery of signatures is also occurring. Personal and business customers who have received any bank court document from any UK bank or finance company can now send a photo or photocopy of the bank signature, along with the name of the bank, to the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign. The bank signatures signed in the name of the same bank person will be grouped together and compared for any evidence of possible signature forgery. Any suspect signatures will be then be further reviewed by a signature expert.
Even if individuals do not suspect that a forgery has occurred, they are encouraged to submit evidence to the campaign to build a body of evidence and to be able to compare signatures against other individuals’ documents.
A spokesman for the campaign said: “The goal of the campaign is for the evidence to be reviewed in an inquiry by the Treasury Select Committee and investigated by the Serious Fraud Office and National Crime Agency”