A Treasury Minister's rage against the machine
by Alex Varley-Winter, TTF’s Head of Media Relations & Investigative Reporting
On 24th January the UK lost its inaugural minister of state for ‘efficiency and transformation’ for the Treasury and Cabinet Office – Lord Theodore Agnew. He resigned ‘with immediate effect‘ in apparent disgust at the Government’s lax anti-fraud protections, warning that the country will soon enter a ‘new and dangerous phase’ in which lenders could call on the Government to pay back coronavirus ‘bounce back loans’.
Even beyond the emergency of the pandemic, he said: “Total fraud loss across government is estimated at £29 billion a year”, and “a combination of arrogance, indolence and ignorance freezes the government machine.”
Three days after Lord Agnew’s resignation, parliamentary researchers produced a briefing on the Covid ‘Bounce Back Loan’ Schemes, It quotes the Guardian’s Nils Pratley in 2020: ‘When you’re planning to raise taxes, the perception that the Treasury was taken for a ride by conmen for several billions is not a good look.”
More than a year on from Pratley’s observation, it is worth browsing Lord Agnew’s resignation speech in full. He slammed:
The central government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which, at the beginning of the pandemic “had the grand total of two counter-fraud officials on its staff, neither of whom were experienced in the subject. They refused to engage constructively with the counter-fraud function that sits in the Cabinet Office, has considerable expertise and reports directly to me.”
The UK’s Treasury: “which appears to have no knowledge of, or little interest in, the consequences of fraud to our economy or society”
The Government’s British Business Bank. It hadn’t made basic anti-fraud checks (looking for duplicates) on more than 900,000 loans or 60% of the bounce back loans, issued in the first six weeks of the scheme.
Lord Agnew said in his speech: “If only BEIS and the British Business Bank would wake up, there is still time to demand data and action on duplicate loans. Why will they not do it?” The BBB also had “no single dashboard of management data” to scrutinise lenders’ handling of public money.
Blindsided? The British Business Bank
There are a lot of unanswered questions here. Prior to his resignation, Lord Agnew penned a letter to Lord Smith of Kelvin, who chairs the British Business Bank (BBB). The letter was drilling down into the bank’s apparent failure to hold lenders to account and to impose a standard bar of quality assurance against fraud on the public purse. Read it here.)
Interestingly, Lord Agnew’s questions to the BBB — which he wrote in December — were not received by the bank prior to his resigning. A BBB spokesperson replied to TTF Blog:
“Regarding the letter to Lord Smith, this was not received by Lord Smith or anyone at the British Business Bank until Tuesday 25 January, following enquires prompted by his resignation speech. The original email containing the letter, sent on 16 December 2021, was sent to a generic House of Lords email address (email@example.com). This was not forwarded on to Lord Smith nor anyone at the Bank.”
This is no less than bizarre, and something of an embarrassment to the Lords’ machine. But since the Minister’s complaints are now loud and proud, what will be done to address and recoup public money lost to fraud? On that question we could be seeing tumbleweeds for a while, the bank spokesperson said that its chair, Lord Smith of Kelvin, would give a reply to Lord Agnew’s successor when a new ‘Minister for Transformation’ is appointed.
Was Cummings right about ‘the blob’?
Boris Johnson’s ex-advisor Dominic Cummings has long cut a divisive figure in Britain, for everything ranging from his role in Brexit, to his scruffy clothes, to his pretence to be ‘going for an eye test’ in a breach of lockdown rules in 2020. But was he right about Her Majesty’s Treasury? He dubbed it ‘the blob’.
HMT continues to receive scathing reviews in Britain’s financial press, regarded a major barrier to the ‘levelling up’ agenda that Conservatives promised, and which will particularly interest ex-Labour voters in the North of England. The Financial Times’ editor at large, Robert Shrimsley, wrote last week that the HMT is ‘not on board with levelling up’ and “squats like a complacent toad over all policy.” On the Treasury’s side is the fact that: “Covid has wrecked the public finances … anything not covered in last year’s public spending round must be funded from existing budgets. And these pressures are not about to ease.”
British businesses decimated by bank ‘Swaps’ are still being betrayed by regulators
Transparency Task Force believes the Treasury and the UK’s regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is covering up the extent of bank lobbying against redress for healthy busineses mothballed by banks after the financial crash of ’08-09.
From ’09 into the 2010s, the banks’ recovery fed from an open wound in Britain’s small to medium sized businesses. Farmers, property developers, publicans, shopkeepers, doctors’ surgeries – were picking up the tab. Many believe the Treasury and watchdogs were hand-in-glove, protecting big business at the expense of small.
TTF’s founder, Andy Agathangelou emailed the watchdog over the weekend to say: “I’d rather not have to continue to speak to distraught people, often in tears, because their financial security and personal wellbeing has been obliterated due to catastrophic regulatory failure by the FCA.
“Take, for example, the IRHP [Interest Rates Hedging Products] mis-selling victims” Agathangelou points to the FCA ‘refusing to do what it can’ to “help SME business owners to get the compensation they are owed due to the deliberate selling of toxic IRHP products by the banks, despite a very expensive investigation by a leading QC making it crystal clear that they should, as set out so clearly here and here.”
Guarding George Osborne
An excuse used by the FCA for denying customers access to redress, is to allow banks to retrospectively label them ‘sophisticated’ — sometimes several years later — implying that they were fully capable of knowing what a swap could do to their business. Agathangelou wrote to Rathi: “I do not know what the legal basis is for the FCA’s position on this matter; but I do know that the moral basis for its position is non-existent.”
The Times’ business journalist James Hurley last year accused the Treasury and FCA of “lying” about what John Swift QC determined to be then-Chancellor George Osborne’s interference against protecting IRHP victims. ‘Lying’ is not a word that journalists ever use lightly, it implies spin-doctors are actively distorting or obscuring the facts, which cannot be written off as a difference of opinion.
How did swaps work?
‘Swaps’, or ‘interest rates hedging products’, were often sold as a condition of taking out business loans. The period of Swift QC’s review of the scandal extends all the way from the millennium to the end of the noughties. Customers could be told that this product would protect them if interest rates rose. What they were not necessarily told is what it would do to them if interest rates fell.
Ordinarily, if interest rates go down then this is good, it means the cost of borrowing is low. A ‘swap’ resulted in a reverse effect that when interest rates go down, the business has to pay the bank fees. Bank managers were incentivised to sell the products in the mid-to-late 00’s. But at what cost to their customers?
The post-crash feeding frenzy
Business analyst and ex-banker Steve Middleton has spoken to reams of devastated SME directors over the years since the crash, and reflects his experience: “Between 2001-2006″ – when interest rates tended not to be falling – “the swap sales were not normally that damaging, but in cases I have seen where the customer was ‘in the money’, the bank cancelled the deal and sold a new one to favour them again.”
From his perspective, the wreckage to customers was absoutely foreseeable: “From circa September 2007 all of the forecasts were down long term, Northern Rock went bang in September 2007 that was the real start of the crash. Virtually all swaps sold after that date (the majority of them) were sold by telling customers rates would go up when the opposite was true.”
Middleton has become a deep subject matter expert in how swaps were structured. Credit lines for ‘swaps’ were hidden and customers were often, allegedly, being signed up for products without their knowledge or consent, a clear breach of financial services rules.
A ‘no cost option’ that cost £millions
TTF Blog recently interviewed a publican who was arbitrarily excluded from the financial watchdog’s redress scheme, despite the toxic products having cost him his business.
This customer had had no idea what the swap could do to his business. But he was deemed ‘sophisticated’, several years after being lumbered with a swap, because he had employed a certain number of people and turned over a certain figure, before the pub chain was mothballed by lenders.
He explains why his business took a loan with a ‘swap’ attached to it: “All we were informed, Alex, was that these will effectively protect your business against interest rate increases, and that it’s a no cost option. We were reminded by bank of the very high interest rates of the 80’s and 90’s and that rates were now at historic low and how much it would cost when rates rose.”
He adds: “I shouldn’t use the word ‘sold’. These [conditions] were in there for starters, as a condition of borrowing. It made entering the swaps compulsory.”
Early in 2009, reality bit: “A rather large amount of money was removed from our bank account by Barclays, ie around £27,000 …And we were then informed: Well, this was the ‘swap’.” Why? Interest rates had fallen, triggering the cost to his business.“We were just absolutely dumbstruck, because nobody in the right mind would ever have entered into an arrangement like that.”
Was his business in a healthy state when he was ‘sold’ or lumbered this product, in ’06? “The freehold assets we then held at that time were … somewhere in the region of thirteen and a half million pounds”. Their loans were about half the value of that estate, leading to him to calculate that they could sell off a few £millions in assets if they ever ran into trouble. The swap derailed that security.
He recalls how counter-intuitive it felt: “interest rates falling as far as we were concerned [should be] good for business, because you’re paying less.” The swap had engineered the opposite. “So that was the start of the the disaster … We were just then praying for interest rates to go back up, which just sounds unbelievably stupid.”
Upwards of £52,000 a month
What was the cost of the swap at that point? “Every month, we had to pay Barclays … I think was about £27,500. So April, May, June every damn month. So we were absolutely being screwed.”
On top of that, the bank’s relationship manager then brought in independent consultants who came with huge fees: “£24,000 a month” to ‘see all our sites and meet our managers and effectively strip us naked’, along with “advisors” to ‘carry out independent business reviews at the behest of the bank costing further tens of thousands.’
More than a £million to cancel
Eventually, the business managed to break out of the ‘swap’ arrangement, with a break fee that cost them more than a £million. The chain of pubs was however, unable to recover. Many of the pub sites are now property developments as result of the company being liquidated, after having been drained month-on-month by the toxic product and all that followed.
Similar stories are told by farmers, doctors’ surgeries, and other small businesses lumbered with these products.
This publican believed that businesses such as his that owned freehold premises were particularly targeted. Why? Freeholds were used to securitise ‘collateralised debt obligations’ which the banks could trade. He says: “Businesses that operated purely from leasehold premises were not targets for swaps as there was no security for the bank to securitise.”
NOT SWIFT: The tortured road to redress
In 2015, Treasury Committee MPs called on the Financial Conduct Authority to commission an independent scrutiny of its handling of the swaps scandal. The FCA delayed this scrutiny for almost four years because of legal proceedings.
In 2019 it then commissioned a QC, John Swift, to independently review its handling of swaps victims. His review took more than two years.
Many small businesses were, in Swift’s view, wrongly excluded from redress by the Financial Conduct Authority’s previous incarnation, the Financial Services Authority: “the FSA was wrong to confine it [redress] to a subset of Private Customers/Retail Clients which it designated as ‘non-sophisticated’. The FSA thus avoided, without adequate objective justification, its wider responsibilities to secure redress for all Private Customers/Retail Clients who had been mis-sold IRHPs”, Swift concluded on page 316 of his report.
Despite this, the FCA has no plans to re-open routes to redress. FCA chair Charles Randell recently wrote to Kevin Hollinrake MP, chair of the All-Party Group for fairer business banking:
“We believe that the decision to treat sophisticated and non-sophisticated customers differently was justified”,
“The FSA’s approach sought to direct redress as quickly as possible to those businesses which were in the most vulnerable circumstances because they were the least able to assess the products the banks sold them and faced more acute financial difficulties.”
Randell argues that the watchdog is not ‘bound’: “to regard all customers in the same way or as requiring the same degree of protection.”
TTF’s recent ‘IRHPGate’ symposium outlined how the mis-selling of ‘hedging’ products to small businesses effectively propped up big banks during and after the financial crash of ’08. One lawyer commented that there could be fraud cases to answer within a raft of grievances. The problem in securing an investigation is often an inequality of arms between small businesses and the very large ones that appeared to feed off their assets, and regulators have effectively passed the buck on redress.
Press Timeline of relevant articles:
09 February 2022 – An unreformed Treasury will thwart Boris Johnson’s levelling-up dream by Robert Shrimsley in the Financial Times
08 February 2022 – MPs step up fight with City watchdog over SME loan mis-selling by Mark Kleinman for Sky News
24 January 2022 – Lord Agnew’s resignation speech by Adam Williams for politics.co.uk
17 January 2022 – Businesses were destroyed and lives ruined by misconduct of major banks by Greg Wright for the Yorkshire Post
02 December 2021 – 18th British Steel IFA declared in default as advisers carry on next door by Laura Purkess for Citywire
26 October 2021 – ‘Regulator must not be tainted by scandal‘ by James Hurley for the Times
12 October 2021 – Civil war: FCA staff pushing for union involvement after pay cut row with CEO Nikhil Rathi by Michiel Willems for City A.M.
10 October 2021 – Outrage over £125m bonuses for staff at UK’s ‘failing’ financial watchdog by Jon Ungoed-Thomas for the Guardian
10 October 2021 – Post-Brexit push: FCA to market London’s financial services sector abroad by Lily Russell-Jones for City A.M.
09 October 2021 – Financial watchdogs told to boost City abroad by Louisa Clarence-Smith for the Times
06 October 2021 – Too big to jail: why the crackdowns on dodgy finance have been so ineffective by Prem Sikka for the Guardian
01 October 2021 – HDFC bank denies allegations of not flagging forgery to authorities by Dinesh Unnikrishnan for Money Control
21 August 2021 – ‘She groomed me for £10,000’: scandal at FSCS as employee goes rogue – Staffer charged with helping London Capital & Finance victim recover £20,000 but soliciting loans as well by Harry Brennan for the Telegraph
12 August 2021 – Whistleblowers make 2,754 separate allegations of financial misconduct to FCA by Pedro Gonçalves for Investment Week
26 July 2021 – Foxes in the hen house? The trouble with politicians in financial boardrooms by JB Beckett for Investment Week
20 July 2021 – Divorced From Reality: How Legal Loans Racked Up Half a Million Debt for a Standard Divorce by Katie Tarrant & Alex Varley-Winter for BylineTimes
15 July 2021 – Don’t ditch ‘tried and tested’ investments for ESG by
13 July 2021 – Private equity and the raid on corporate Britain by Kaye Wiggins, Harriet Agnew and Daniel Thomas
05 July 2021 – FCA breaking law over consumer consultation, campaigners allege by for MoneyMarketing
02 July 2021 – Banks’ bad behaviour damaging consumer confidence by
25 June 2021 – MPs LCF report too soft on FCA, campaigners say by
06 Feb 2021 – Fraud victims suffer enough – guarantee will help innocent overcome shame of scamming by Daniel Jones for the Sun
05 Feb 2021 – Leader: The FCA’s leaders need to step up when things go wrong by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing
04 Feb 2021 – Pension scam victims say regulators should have saved them from from losing life savings, by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph
02 Feb 2021 – SMCR rules come back to bite FCA in mini-bond probe ‘rules around senior managers being held responsible for their actions have come back to bite the regulator’, by Daniela Esnerova for MoneyMarketing
02 Feb 2021 – Regulation must deliver transparency and protection for Buy Now Pay Later consumers by Alex Marsh for City A.M.
02 Feb 2021 – Bank chief Bailey ‘should be censured’ for failings by James Hurley for the Times
02 Feb 2021 – FCA criticised for trying to omit names from LCF report by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
02 Feb 2021 – Poll: Should FCA executives bear personal responsibility for the London Capital and Finance fallout? by MoneyMarketing
01 Feb 2021 – Investment funds flouting new transparency rules by Patrick Hosking for the Times
01 Feb 2021 – MPs launch full inquiry into London Capital & Finance scandal with chairman declaring it will be “thorough and clear” by Jim Armitage for the Evening Standard
29 Jan 2021 – The Financial Services Bill doesn’t provide the tough regulation we need by Professor Prem Sikka for Left Foot Forward
25 Jan 2021 – FCA urges clients of collapsed British Steel firm to consider claims by Sonia Rach for MoneyMarketing
21 Jan 2021 – MPs call on FCA to ‘hold bad advisers to account’ by Laura Purkess for CityWire
21 Jan 2021 – FCA told it lacks vision to tackle consumer issues by Amy Austin for FT Adviser
18 Jan 2021 – Former Hong Kong lawmaker rejects HSBC’s explanation over frozen accounts by Reuters
18 Jan 2021 – What we learned from a bumper FCA data dump by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing
18 Jan 2021 – Wall Street fears bubble from Biden stimulus as retail investing booms by Katherine Greifeld, Claire Ballentine and Vildana Hajric for Independent.ie
15 Jan 2021 – Mortgage prisoners accuse Treasury of working against them as wider FCA remit blocked by Owain Thomas for Mortgage Solutions
14 Jan 2021 – MP Vows To Keep Pushing Tougher Economic Crime Law by Richard Crump for Law360
12 Jan 2021 – Bitcoin: be prepared to lose all your money, FCA warns consumers by Kalyeena Makortoff for the Guardian
07 Jan 2021 – Regulators and police say Covid lockdowns have driven up online pension scams and demand regulation of Google, Facebook and others by Jim Armitage for the Evening Standard
06 Jan 2021 – Why UK savers could fall through the cracks in Brexit regulation from the FCA by Jim Armitage for the Evening Standard
04 Jan 2021 – Bank of England fails to publish officials’ expenses by Alex Ralph for the Times
18 Dec 2020 – Executives at Financial Conduct Authority to lose bonuses over London Capital & Finance scandal by Ben Martin for the Times – Bosses at the Financial Conduct Authority will lose £205,000 in bonuses after the highly critical report on the regulator’s handling of the London Capital & Finance scandal
17 Dec 2020 – The fallout from the financial regulator’s shocking failure on LC&F is not over yet by Nils Pratley for the Guardian
17 Dec 2020 – FCA did not ‘effectively supervise’ collapsed mini-bond issuer LCF, says report by Matthew Vincent for the Financial Times “Members of the Transparency Task Force, a lobby group pushing for regulatory reform, pointed out that in his own representations to the Gloster review, Mr Bailey included a demand “to delete references to ‘responsibility’ resting with specific identified/identifiable individuals”.
17 Dec 2020 – Former Financial Conduct Authority boss Bailey apologises over handling of mini-bond scandal by Ben Martin for the Times
16 Dec 2020 – EU cannot be ‘captured’ by City of London, warns financial services chief by Sam Fleming and Jim Brunsden for the Financial Times
09 Nov 2020 – Spike in personal pension cases at ombudsman by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
09 Nov 2020 – Regulator: Climate risk ‘looms even larger’ than pandemic by Avery Ellfeldt for ClimateWire (U.S.)
08 Nov 2020 – How financial services watchdog has reacted to UK consumer worries in Covid by Hilary Osborne for Guardian
08 Nov 2020 – Five predictions for banking regulation in a Biden presidency by Jon Hill for Law 360
05 Nov 2020 – Martin Lewis warns of ‘epidemic of scams’ after ICU nurse loses £8,000 by Scott Edwards for Wales Online
05 Nov 2020 –FCA bans adviser trio jailed for sex offences by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
03 Nov 2020 – ‘We haven’t received a penny’: Business interruption insurance row intensifies as owners fear payout delays, by Elizabeth Anderson for iNews
03 Nov 2020 – Aviva’s shares fiasco highlights weakness of the city watchdog by Patrick Hosking for the Times
02 Nov 2020 – Banks have done little to help the country through the pandemic, so why is the government rewarding them? by Simon Youel for the Independent
29 Oct 2020 – Calls to sack Malta financial regulator CEO by Cristian Angeloni for International Adviser
27 Oct 2020 – U.S. group urges Biden to use financial regulation to control climate change by Valerie Volcovici for Reuters
27 Oct 2020 – ‘Impact startups’ continue to raise funding during the pandemic despite difficulties faced by the wider tech startup sector by Sebastian Klovig Skelton for Computer Weekly
26 Oct 2020 – Why there must be thorough probe of claims made by Bank Signature Forgery Campaign – Greg Wright for the Yorkshire Post
26 Oct 2020 – Critics demand action over ‘flawed’ British Banking Resolution Service by James Hurley for the Times
23 Oct 2020 – Bank Signature Forgery (film) by Nicholas Wilson for Corruption UK
22 Oct 2020 – UK fraud agency suffers string of senior departures by Kate Beioley for the FT
22 Oct 2020 – Work harder to find fraud, watchdog tells auditors by James Hurley for the Times
17 Oct 2020 – MPs pursue claims bank signatures were faked on court papers by Rupert Jones for the Guardian
16 Oct 2020 – We need universal digital ad transparency now by Laura Edelson, Erika Franklin Fowler and Jason Chuang for TechCrunch
15 Oct 2020 – Rising COVID-19 Rates Send NatWest Misselling Trial To Video by Bonnie Eslinger for Law 360
15 Oct 2020 – MPs Push Agencies to Act on Forged Signature Claims by Law360
13 Oct 2020 – Mark Carney says banks should link executive pay to Paris climate goals by Kalyeena Makortoff for the Guardian
12 Oct 2020 ‘It is time to reboot the competition regime for the modern, digital age’ by David Wighton, The Times
12 Oct 2020 – Gina Miller blasts FCA complaints scheme changes ‘unfair, immoral and illegal’ by Cristian Angeloni for Portfolio Adviser
12 Oct 2020 – MPs call for input on Pension Schemes Bill by James Phillips for Professional Pensions
10 Oct 2020 – Give pension trustees power to fight scammers, say MPs by Kenza Bryan for the Times
08 Oct 2020 – Freedom to transfer pensions should be stripped where scams are suspected, industry experts urge by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph
08 Oct 2020 – Planned pensions shake-up passes first Commons hurdle by Law 360
08 Oct 2020 – WPC chairman says transfer rules ‘must be changed’ by Amy Austin for FT Adviser
07 Oct 2020 – Tech giants share blame for pension scams, MPs told by Law 360
06 Oct 2020 – FCA opens 85 cases over pension scam concerns by Amy Austin for FT Adviser
11 Sep 2020 – The Hut Group facing fresh questions over governance after it reveals one of country’s best-known private equity barons to oversee pay policy by Lucy White for the Daily Mail
10 Sep 2020 London Capital and Finance investors relieved after court ruling opens route to compensation claims by Ben Chapman for the Independent
05 Sep 2020 Crime Agency under fire over bank signature forgery by Andy Verity for BBC
24 Aug 2020 – Financial Conduct Authority rushes to minimise compensation for its failings by James Hurley for The Times
04 Aug 2020 – Have your say: Will the WPC’s inquiry into the impact of pension freedoms be too overshadowed by Covid-19 impacts? by Professional Pensions
03 Aug 2020 – ‘“I’m 39, have lost my job and am in debt – can I unlock my £18k pension?” … DON’T do it!’‘ by Steve Webb for This is Money
01 Aug 2020 – ‘I lost £2.3m after I was conned into transferring my pension’ by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph
28 Jul 2020 – MPs launch inquiry into pension scams by Tom Kelly for Daily Mail ; UK Pension Scams Under Scrutiny After 2015 Relaxation in Rules by Reuters & MPs launch wide-ranging pension scams probe by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing
24 Jul 2020 – US business groups seek steps to stamp out online fraud by Leonie Barrie for Just Style
21 Jul 2020 Londongrad Calling: Is Europe’s Laundromat the ‘New Normal’? by Mark Conrad
17 Jul 2020 – Year ‘dominated’ by FCA shortcomings as 205 complaints made, by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
29 Jun 2020 – MPs Pushed to Launch Pension Scam Inquiry by Amy Austin for FT Adviser & Lawmakers Urged To Open Inquiry Into Pension Scams by Martin Croucher for Law 360
11 Jun 2020 – Blackmore minibond investors get just £5m back by Ben Martin for the Times
11 May 2020 – FCA urged to build public trust in independent reviews by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
30 Apr 2020 – FCA was warned three years ago about mini-bond firm Blackmore Bond, which collapsed with £45m of savers’ money by Ben Chapman for the Independent
15 Apr 2020 – Met police lose two thirds of finance officers as fraud soars by Ben Ellery for the Times
25 Mar 2020 – Care Home Wants NatWest Docs in Misselling Fight by Law360
20 Mar 2020 – Connaught review delayed as Covid-19 concerns loom by Rachel Mortimer in FT Adviser
07 Jan 2020 – It’s time to keep your pensions promise, Boris! The PM pledged to help these victims of a huge scam FOUR years ago – and they’re still waiting by Tom Kelly for the Daily Mail.
29 Dec 2019 – ‘Lambs to the slaughter – tens of thousands of savers have lost up to £10billion in rogue pensions schemes sanctioned by the government… and now the taxman is threatening VICTIMS with fines’, and ‘Making millions from other people’s misery’: A Government adviser, call centre chief and pension scheme director are among those who stand accused of involvement in pension schemes that exploited loophole in the law by Tom Kelly for the Daily Mail
03 Sep 2019 –
Chris Gordon Developer who ‘lost £1m’ takes legal action against Ulster Bank by Alan Erwin for the Belfast Telegraph
30 Aug 2019 – MPs back businessman on hunger strike at Clydesdale Bank by Kalyeena Makortoff for the Guardian
15 Aug 2019 – Victims hit by Connaught’s collapse blast City watchdog for ‘whitewashing’ independent review by Lucy White for Daily Mail
05 Aug 2019 – Plunder in paradise: The ‘adviser’ behind a Costa scam that has cost expat pensioners £25MILLION – and led one to attempt suicide by Laura Shannon for Mail on Sunday
05 Jul 2019 Government-owned bank ‘forging signatures’ in repossession cases by Andy Verity for BBC
18 Jun 2019 – “I came home to find my house had been stolen!” by Angela Ellis-Jones for the Daily Mail
20 Jun 2019 – FCA orders review of its handling of Connaught collapse by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
13 Jun 2019 – Investigation into disgraced RBS small business unit branded a ‘whitewash’ by MPs by Ben Chapman for the Independent
07 Jun 2019 – Guernsey Stock Exchange disputes FCA account over Woodford by David Thorpe in FT Adviser
29 Mar 2019 – MPs call for inquiry into alleged forgery of signatures by Andy Verity for BBC
15 Feb 2017 – RBS accused of fraud & forgery by customers and ex-employee by Andrew Hosken for The World Tonight BBC Radio 4
22 Dec 2016 – Solicitors suspended for roles in collapsed Brazilian investment scheme by Nick Hilborne for Legal Futures
10 Oct 2016 – The Dash For Cash: Leaked Files Reveal RBS Systematically Crushed British Businesses For Profit by Heidi Blake, Jane Bradley, Tom Warren & Richard Holmes for Buzzfeed News