MPs demand update on bank signature forgery claims

Campaigners believe forged signatures were used on an industrial scale by banks

MPs have written to the City regulator and fraud investigators to demand an update on their investigation into claims of widespread signature forgery at British banks. 

Campaigners believe forged signatures were used on an industrial scale by banks and that some customers had their homes repossessed as a result. 

The Bank Signature Forgery Campaign said it had submitted more than 360 crime reports backed by 19 files of documentary evidence and testimony from handwriting experts to the National Crime Agency (NCA). 

The reports set out allegations against some of the UK’s biggest banks, including Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland, which has rebranded as Natwest. The banks deny wrongdoing. 

The allegations include forgery, perverting the course of justice and proceeds of crime money laundering offences. 

Nicky Morgan, former chair of the Treasury select committee, wrote to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) in July last year asking them to engage with campaigners and to investigate the evidence. 

Julian Watts, who leads the campaign, previously told The Telegraph that Lynne Owens, director general of the NCA, had cancelled meetings with him four times. 

Ms Owens last year denied that her agency had “passed the buck” after criticism from prominent police commissioner Anthony Stansfeld. The NCA said in August it was continuing to assess the evidence presented. 

Mel Stride, Conservative MP and current chair of the Treasury Select Committee, wrote to the FCA and the NCA on Thursday to ask what authorities are doing to address the allegations. 

The request will put pressure on the agencies to demonstrate what progress they have made in the past 15 months. 

Mr Stride asked Nikhil Rathi, the new chief executive of the FCA, and Graeme Biggar, director general of the NCA’s economic crime centre, to explain what they have done to engage with the campaign and their work so far on the allegations, many of which date back several years. 

He also asked for details of what offences the agencies believe may have been committed and the legal arguments they are considering.