Members will be aware from a previous Blog and my Vlog of my contention that RBS has committed fraud during my banking relationship. I have made a complaint to Police Scotland and given a statement which would appear to have satisfied the Police that a fraud has been committed. More recently, I have received an opinion from legal counsel that firmly gives the view that the way in which RBS was behaving was of a fundamentally fraudulent nature.
I have always maintained that there must have been scores of customers in Scotland who were victims of this exact same conduct and I have now been able to make contact with several who believe that they too have been defrauded.
One of the stumbling blocks in securing further criminal pursuit of RBS and some of its personnel is the assertion by the Crown Office in Edinburgh that despite the evidence and other papers I have provided along with my Police statement, there is insufficient corroboration of my allegations to pursue this any further. The Crown Office refuse to instruct the Police to undertake interviews with the named Bank personnel, and it refuses to force RBS to release all our files which I believe would be sufficient to provide the corroboration that is currently lacking. I have made three attempts to secure these files under SAR; firstly the Bank initially claiming that these had been destroyed, which, following the Clifford Chance review when this firm obtained our files, proved to be a blatantly dishonest statement; second and third attempts were met with the same response that the files were subject to legal privilege and release of these would be prejudicial to any ongoing legal challenge I may have against the Bank.
In order to try and overcome the issue of a lack of corroboration, I was advised to seek out other victims in Scotland, and, if other victims came forward with their evidence and experiences of similar conduct by RBS against them, to present these to the Crown Office and Police as evidence of systemic fraudulent conduct by RBS against its customers. With multiple instances of such conduct I am assured that the courts in Scotland will accept such evidence as an alternative to individual corroboration under what is termed as the Moorov Doctrine. http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/news/similar-fact-evidence-and-the-moorov-doctrine/
Now, having made contact with eight other victims who claim to have been similarly treated by RBS, I have arranged a meeting for us all in Perth on Wednesday 11th November at 11am. The meeting is to be held in The Tavern, South Street, Perth. PH2 8PA, http://www.tavern-perth.co.uk/
where we will all have the opportunity of meeting each other and exchanging our experiences, and considering if we collectively have sufficient evidence to present in a professionally formulated submission to the Crown Office in order that the Crown may consider criminal charges be pursued against RBS personnel.
If, having seen this blog, other Scottish based victims may consider that you too have similar experiences, we would be happy to welcome you to the meeting and you can contact me in the first instance by email; email@example.com or by telephone 07930 570434.
Not surprisingly more information is now coming in further to the meeting at the FCA yesterday with members of SME Alliance and SBCB. I would like to include some of this in our newsletter but have to go through it first. In particular the issue of 'responsibility' has been raised again and unfortunately it remains as clear as mud who is responsible for potentially criminal misconduct by banks. Is it the regulator or is it the police? And even were the regulator to report our concerns to the police, I'm not sure if the police would just return it with a label saying “this is civil.”
Hopefully, after the excellent article in the Times today by James Hurley and Harry Wilson additional material will now start coming in which will assist the case we are making. Just to be clear about what we were both alleging and evidencing yesterday at the meeting – it is now evident in many cases that information, e-mails, documents, transcripts, and recordings of transcripts have been manipulated, falsified and tampered with in some cases and the result is the information on the central files of some client accounts is no longer reliable. The ramifications of this are almost unthinkable because in some of the cases Andy Keats and Steve Middleton have looked at on behalf of SME Alliance, SBCB and Modus Mediation, the banks have used falsified evidence to wrongly influence the judicial process – and they have been successful.
As I said in a blog yesterday – we cannot be precipitous in our actions. We have an excellent barrister who is helping SME Alliance and we must allow him time to make the further submissions to the FCA. We must also then allow the FCA to evaluate both the barristers opinion and yesterday's presentation – which was substantial. I add the caveat – I know exactly how frustrated some members are with the regulator and in particular with regard to the IRHP review scheme. I am not known for being a huge fan of the regulatory bodies myself! But there is no point in Andy Keats or Steve Middleton spending hours collating information to take to the FCA if we then pronounce judgement on their decisions prior to them making any!!
We will of course continue to collate the information arriving now and, in order to do this efficiently can I please ask any members of SME Alliance or any one who feels they have relevant information about the potential manipulation or falsification of client data to send it to any of the following e-mail addresses marked – Client data from banks – strictly private and confidential:
Your information will be held in strictest confidence and we will not share it with the press or the regulator or anyone else without your express permission. Alternatively you can send it directly to James Hurley or Harry Wilson (I don't have Harry's e-mail) at the Times or to Andy Verity at the BBC who is following the story closely.
I am aware other campaigning groups who were not directly involved with the FCA presentation or the Times article have realised how important this is and have reached out to their members who may also have information that is crucial and we thank them for their support.
This is a very serious matter. Let's get it right. If this is as systemic as we believe it is (remembering not all the evidence is from RBS) then we must be absolutely sure all the evidence we are presenting is as indisputable as the evidence we presented yesterday to the FCA.
The newsletter will be out tomorrow and will include information that may help members further their cases. Sorry I can't get it out tonight but it is important I read everything that has come in.
What an interesting few days – and a news letter will be out tomorrow giving more detail. However, I know that many of our members will want to know asap how the meeting at the FCA went today. So here's a brief summary – more soon.
First I would like to announce some important news from SME Alliance and not least because it is relevant to today's meeting. As you all know, the three directors of SME Alliance up until now have been me (Nikki), Nick Gould and Jon Welsby. For no other reason than huge personal commitments, Jon has resigned as a director and much as Nick and I are gutted, we fully appreciate it is a demanding job and one that, for the moment, Jon is struggling to fulfil along with the extraordinary work load he has to deal with. He is of course still a dedicated member of SME Alliance and someone we continue to rely on for help, support and advice.
That's the bad news. The good news is that Andy Keats who we have been working with very closely on a number of serious issues, is now a director of SME Alliance. So the meeting we had today at the FCA, which was initiated by Andy and SBCB but which SME Alliance has been heavily involved in, was a very serious meeting for SME Alliance with Steve Middleton, Andy, Mark Wright and I all representing the bigger picture of the SME Alliance membership as well as the issues SBCB is continuing to move forward for specific clients. I am sure everyone will be as pleased as Nick and I are that Andy is now officially a director of SME Alliance.
So – today's meeting. Those members who attended our last meeting at the Metro Bank will have seen Andy's presentation on what can only be called the manipulation or falsification of information of clients central files by RBS. There is no way to portray this in a more PC manner. The information collected and collated by Andy has now been substantially added to by submissions to James Hurley at the Times (after his article which prompted at least 20 people to contact him) and some extraordinary cases (including SME Alliance members cases) which Steve Middleton has been working on. And please note – not all of the evidence uncovered so far has been directly related to RBS (although the majority has to date).
I would just point out that in order to fully identify the falsification or manipulation of documentation in central files has taken hours of work because “everything is in the detail.” Not only that but I can confirm that, as someone who spends hours reading the documents forwarded by members, I, like so many other people who are not experts in the field, very often fail to see the significance of what I am reading. So – many thanks to Andy who has raised these issues and also to Steve and the advisers of SME Alliance who have the ability to recognise issues and facts that could have so easily have fallen by the wayside.
The end result is today we have presented a considerable amount of evidence to the FCA which will now have to be very carefully considered and acted on. How they will react? I don't know – and I don't know this in any other sense than the obvious fact that the representatives of the FCA will have to have some time (however short) to consider the barrage of information they have been given. They have seen the presentations from Andy and Steve – they have got those presentations and it is only reasonable they will need time to conclude how best to deal with the issues we have raised.
We absolutely don't want to influence what the FCA does next. Clearly, we have our own views of how this should progress. But today's meeting was not, in anyway an attack on the FCA it was simply an excellent opportunity to present a series of indisputable facts – which we did.
We were luck to have with us a very good barrister to put his views on the evidence presented and also Gutto Bebb to give his views. Someone asked me at the end of the meeting is I think Gutto Bebb is one of the good guys? Yes I do and I think his presence there today was confirmation of this – he knows SMEs have serious issues with banks and these issues need to be addressed. We thank him very much for his attendance today.
Conclusions – there are none today. If I dropped a ton of bricks on your head today, it's reasonable you'd take a few days to recover and to think how you might come to terms with what has happened and consider what to do about it. I think that's where the FCA are today. They need to consider these presentations in detail (not just a 2 hour introduction) and they need to consider the regulatory implications. Additionally they will be waiting for the submissions from our barrister which will arrive on Tuesday – clearly a barristers opinion will have some influence on conclusions and outcomes.
I can confirm the FCA did ask if Andy and we are happy for the FCA to present the evidence we have to the police – and yes, of course we are because it does appear some of this evidence includes criminal conduct. However, this does not exclude in any way the regulatory breaches identified which the FCA themselves must deal with.
So what I'm saying is – today's meeting was very positive. To the best of my knowledge (and I was there) no one challenged the evidence presented. And as such, something has to happen. What? Well let's give the FCA representatives present time to consider their best course of action. Should that action not comply with anything we or our legal representative feels is reasonable, we will of course react. But we can't react in advance of the FCA receiving our final submissions or their replies.
The really important things about this is – a year ago we would neither have collated such compelling evidence of bank misconduct, nor would the FCA been willing to listen to us. There was nothing about today's meeting I found antagonistic. We took the evidence – the FCA listened and, I would say, were quite shocked. Let's not precipitate what happens next. If it's good or even reasonable (which I think it will be) then we have a good case to go forward and protect our members. If it's not (and I have no reason to think the FCA will ignore our submissions) we obviously have plans going forward.
Most of us have waited years for any kind of progress. I think we made some progress today but we have to give the FCA a small window of time to consider everything we have said. That's only reasonable. As Nick Gould continually says – we are here to break down solo's. We would be happy to consider the FCA wants to seriously consider our submissions and evidence about misconduct. Hopefully they did today because. We will keep members updated as soon as we have any news. It would be wrong to jump to any conclusions in the meantime. We are no longer presenting information, evidence or data as “individual cases” and we are a united front so the FCA will hopefully take this on board. I believe they will. Interesting times.