EXTRACTED STATEMENT FROM ANTHONY STANSFELD, THAMES VALLEY POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER IN THE MICHELLE YOUNG CASE: A SPECIAL HEARING ADJUNCT TO THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
Testified on April 18, 2018 before the I.T.N.J. re: Global Finanicial Corruption & Collusion
ANTHONY STANSFELD is the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner in the United Kingdom (with parliamentary privilege). He is the first person to hold the post and was elected on 15 November 2012.
“Good afternoon. I’m an elected person as the police and crime commissioner. I’m elected over the Thames Valley which is the biggest area really and non metropolitan area in the country. It’s got about 2.5 million people in it and it represents 21 parliamentary constituents including the Prime Minister’s and the last Prime Minister’s, the number two in government, so I have a reasonable political voice.
I’m in effect an executive chairman of law and order across said area, and in 2013 we started an investigation into one of the banks. It was a bank that no longer existed, but had been taken over. But the directors had been moved between the two banks, and that was Halifax Bank of Scotland (HBOS) which was taken over by Lloyds in 2008/2009, and it was an extraordinary investigation.
Two other police forces had turned it down, the Serious Fraud Office wouldn’t look at it. We did look at it, and it was one family, a man and wife team called Paul and Nikki Turner who put the cases together and brought it to Thames Valley. It looked as though a very large proportion of the crime had been committed out of Redding. It was a vast fraud, and we duly got sucked in and investigated. It took three years during which the bank offered very little support.
We only looked at a fraud of £245 million. I think there was a reason for that. It was deliberately being kept below £250 million. If it had been over, it would have to have been reported in all their accounts, and they were very keen not to do that, as they were doing rights issues at the time.
After a case that lasted a very long time, and cost us about £7 million (should have cost a lot less if we’d had cooperation properly from the bank throughout) the bankers were convicted. It was an interesting one that Lloyds bank denied throughout that period, even when their own banker pleaded guilty – they denied the fraud.
For 10 years they knew about the fraud and for 10 years they had gone for the personal guarantees of the people they had knowingly defrauded, and this bankrupted thousands of people. They had their houses taken away, their homes….people committed suicide, there were divorces. Sheer misery it caused. The bank chairmen were perfectly aware of it because they were written to by so many victims, and it simply wasn’t followed-up.
Eventually we got the convictions. I think the bank was actually horrified that we got the convictions, and that happened at the end of January last year (2017). I think that was the opening of the flood gates. They’d taken rather a long time to open.
What became apparent was that the fraud wasn’t £250 million – or £245 – which we prosecuted on. It was near a billion on this one particular bank. It was an interesting fraud. They were defrauding not only the bank, but their clients at the same time. So I think it was a huge degree of incompetence by the bank.
But it also came out that there were a vast number of other victims from RBS (and Lloyds itself) on a huge scale….the GRG division…..I don’t know how many companies with it……something like 16,000 (I’m not absolutely certain of that figure). Only 10% ever got out of GRG.
Now you would think if these were toxic companies that were collapsing – GRG would be losing money. They made an enormous profit. The head of it is now the chief of Santander, which I personally find extraordinary. That was stated in the house of commons by Sir Vince Cable.
There was an interesting sideline to all of this, that most police forces do not have the money, or the capacity, or the capability to take on fraud cases. When you find yourself legislating or prosecuting a bank – they have the smartest London solicitors and unlimited money to spend on their legal cases. (As for) the police, it cost us £7 million. We didn’t get much of that back, we got £2 million back from the Treasury, from the Home Office.
No private individual can really take a case against the bank. They will put the case off, they will come up with every problem, and even people who are still well-off after they’ve had all their companies taken away from them, or their homes……the case will be put off and put off, and there’s a six year statute of limitations which the bank is well aware of on cases…..and they play on that.
I’ve seen major companies (into the several hundred million pounds) that have been removed off people and they simply are out-lawyered in the courts. I don’t think the courts are remotely supportive, and I think we (saw) that in the case we’ve just heard.
The repossessions from Lloyds and RBS are still going on. I went to see Dame Linda Dobbs, who is doing the internal inquiry of Lloyds, the other day, and as I walked down Deities Street again to see her, I was rung-up by a lady who was having her property taken away as she spoke to me on the phone. The police were there, the bailiffs were there, and I couldn’t do anything about it…… there was a Court Order. Do I think that Court Order was a fair one, that had been got at properly? No I don’t for a moment think it had been…. but there was nothing I could actually do about it at that stage.
I think (and it’s a personal opinion) but I do lead on major fraud for the Police Commission in the country, that something has gone seriously rotten in the leadership of some of our major banks at the moment. One staggering thing is that there’s nobody on the board, I think there is one person on the board of our major banks, clearing banks, who’s a qualified banker. They simply are not qualified bankers. They’re all accountants….or just businessmen….and of course they’re making absolute millions. And their legal expenses are not paid by them, they are paid by their shareholders.
Lloyds ran-up a bill, I believe it was about £900 million for lawyers last year, and one wonders whether it is protecting the banks, or the boards of the banks. I have considerable doubts. I think there were a number of things we need to do to put a stop to this. I think we’ve got to have a proper Chapter 11 system in this country (where) you cannot bankrupt a company overnight.
Every other country has one, we don’t have one. I think you’ve got to remove the Statue of Limitations in bank cases, so that they can’t deliberately put off cases indefinitely (until they run) out of time. I think you’ve got to have a proper Tribunal System set-up to sort-out compensation for the people that have been defrauded. I think it should be compulsory for at least half the board of a bank (to) be qualified (as) bankers.
I think you got to put a stop to the unlimited personal guarantees that are outrageously abused. People with small debts were bankrupted, then had their assets stolen off them – worth many many times their original debt. That is divided-up between the cronies. In my view, the insolvency practitioners and others, (along with) vast sums of money simply disappear. Where did all the money go from the HBOS case? I think probably at least £600 or £700 million went straight abroad. I think we only recovered about £15 million out of a vastly bigger sum at the moment.
Who made the money and where is it sitting? We don’t have the capacity or the capability to investigate fraud properly. I think there is a massive problem in our regulatory authorities. The two major ones are the Financial Conduct Authority and the Financial Reporting Counsel…..meant to keep an eye on auditors.
I find it quite extraordinary that the chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority, until the beginning of this month, was a very senior partner of KPMG that did the audits of the HBOS bank. They overlooked a fraud that approached a million pounds, and a multimulti-billion pound hole….probably approaching £40 billion, in the accounts. (Yet) the man went on to be the chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority. The chairman of the Financial Reporting Counsel who keeps an eye on the auditors gave KPMG a clean bill of health last year. His previous job was chairman of Lloyds when this was going on. So how on earth do people expect to get justice for a system like this?
Now I go from this meeting this afternoon (to) a meeting with Andrew Bailey who is the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority. He has asked me to go and see him and we’re going to have a very interesting conversation I think. I don’t know quite how we stop this.
In 2013 there was an internal report written within Lloyds called the Turnbull Report. It was commissioned by Lloyds, but they now deny it was commissioned by them. They did (so) because I’ve got their internal emails (which) lays-out quite clearly what went on within Lloyds bank. (Yet) Lloyds say not only did (they) not commission it, but it it an unsubstantiated report. But it was written three years before they admitted to a fraud that is clearly laid out in this report. So it is pretty well substantiated.
The Financial Conduct Authority has sat on that report for several years….for three years anyway. I’ve made absolutely certain now that it has gone to the Home Office, it has gone to the Serious Fraud Office, and I hope that something will now be done about it. I need to be called in front of the Treasury Select Committee and asked the right questions, and then I’m under parliamentary privilege, and can reveal most of the information (which) is absolutely devastating.
I think the banks have got into a mindset now that they’re above the law and can get away with it, (along with) Insolvency Practitioners, their lawyers, (and) the valuers. How are houses valued at 1.5 million suddenly valued at 400 thousand and flogged off? This is the sort of thing that has gone on time and time again, and is absolutely rotten….and I think Parliament is aware of this.
There was meant to be a debate about it in the House of Commons yesterday, but it had to be put off for a fortnight because there was an emergency debate on Syria. I think that will be an interesting debate. I went to a debate about it a month ago. It’s the only time I’ve heard all seven Parliamentary representatives in the house of Parliament all agree that something had gone extraordinarily wrong within our justice system. It is one thing them agreeing – and another getting some action out of it.
My concern under all of this is (that) I think the Home Office would like to do something about it. I think the Ministry of Justice would. I don’t actually think the Treasury wants to do anything about it, and the Treasury controls the Regulatory Authorities. It was interesting that last year the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, Andrew Tyrie, wrote to Philip Hammond. It’s an open letter…. not a secret, and said: ‘You cannot go on closing down our inquiries into these things’. He got a letter back from Phillip Hammond (saying) ‘Oh yes I can, under the Financial Services Act (or whatever it was) I’m allowed to do this. It was passed by an act of Parliament’.
Well of course it was probably in an Annex, or an appendix to an Annex on page 562, and it certainly wasn’t understood by the members of Parliament when they signed-up to it. So we don’t have a proper system of regulatory authorities in my view at this time. I also think they’re far too small. The estimate quoted by the National Crime Agency (I pressed them into this number)….by the University of Portsmouth in 2016 put the amount of fraud in the country at
We’d pay off our national debt in no time at all if we didn’t have it. I don’t think it’s very expensive to stop it. I think we need to spend probably £500 million…..half of 1% of that amount. You need to set-up at a regional level, proper regional policing level, serious fraud offices which look at the frauds properly.
At the moment, my Superintendent who deals with this, Offshore Fraud Office is also looking at child sexual exploitation. We need a dedicated experienced team to look at these thing and we simply don’t have it at the moment at any level of government. The Serious Fraud Office is tiny….paid something like £35, £40 million….to tackle a problem that runs to nearly £200 billion. We’ve got to spend money on this and it’s got to be money not from the Home Office, but from the Treasury. I think it is the Treasury who is putting the brakes on this, and I’m doing everything I can to stop. Anyway, it’s got quite a long way to go, this one…..but I think we’re closer to getting something done about it than we have been in a very long number of years.”