In today’s Westminster Hall debate, I called for properly resourced regional fraud squads to fight business banking fraud. I also reiterated the urgent need for a financial services tribunal and a full public inquiry into banking abuses. I made the point that justice is blind and no one is above the law. Yet not one single banker responsible for their part in the financial crisis, or the mistreatment of British businesses, has been held to account.
Economic crime agencies and regulators lack the clear clarity and the resource to fight business banking fraud. They should be able to fine banks for proven abuses, which could, in turn, fund further investigations to deal with these issues. Police forces are overwhelmed, under-resourced and untrained to deal with thousands of complex and costly cases. I would like to see regional fraud squads set to work immediately to investigate legacy cases. I am not alone among my colleagues to know constituents whose lives have been destroyed and families ruined by banks’ mistreatment of businesses. Individuals are responsible and have not been properly investigated or held to account.
We need a full public inquiry into this long-running scandal. There are 12 separate inquiries into various parts of the banking system, two of which will report in the next few weeks. This is a piecemeal approach to a systemic problem; we must be more joined up in tackling the scourge of banking scandals. We need a twin-track approach, so that the Serious Fraud Office works with the Financial Conduct Authority, as happens in the US. We must also ensure that where misconduct and fraud has occurred, the banks give compensation to the victims of these abuses. Only then would we see a positive change in the culture and the relationship between businesses and banks.
Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. In order to do that, we need regional fraud squads and our economic crime agencies to be resourced properly, so they can investigate financial fraud and other crimes to the fullest extent of the law.