NOEL EDMONDS RECENTLY CONTACTED ANDREW BAILEY, CEO OF THE FCA, ON 3 ISSUES RAISED BY LLOYDS’ VICTIMS:
1) The reckless mis-selling of financial products is a criminal offence and in view of the fact that UK banks will be returning to customers over £40 billion this is surely an admission of guilt? Once again banking terminology is designed to soften and in some cases conceal banking wrongdoing. The PPI compensation is actually the return of stolen goods. So, with banks repaying so much money to their customers it’s not unreasonable to conclude they are admitting their guilt in which case why have there been no prosecutions?
2) The regulator has introduced next August as the deadline for PPI claims. But a crime has been committed, as admitted by the banks through their repayment of the customers stolen goods, and the prosecution of criminal behaviour has no time limit. So, there should be no PPI deadline.
3) UK bankers clearly operate outside the law otherwise there would have been prosecutions as there have been in other countries.
THIS IS MR BAILEY’S RESPONSE
From: Andrew Bailey <Andrew.Bailey@fca.org.uk>
Subject: RE: PPI deadline
Date: 10 September 2018 at 18:03:57 GMT+2
To: Noel Edmonds
Thank you for your e-mail in which you raise concerns about the mis-selling of PPI and question why individuals have not been subject to criminal prosecutions in relation to it.
It is worth noting that, so far, £31.9bn has been paid as redress to over 12mn PPI complainants, making this the largest consumer redress exercise in UK financial services history.
Before I address the specific questions you raise, I would like to provide some background in relation to the PPI issue and the role of the FCA and its predecessor organisation, the FSA, in the regulation of firms and the selling of PPI.
Background in relation to the PPI issue
The FSA took on the regulation of the sale of general insurance products including PPI in January 2005 and introduced rules and guidance on how these products should be sold. Two thirds of PPI had been sold before that date.
Following the introduction of these rules, the FSA undertook (from 2005 through 2007) a number of thematic reviews of sales practices across the market and fed the findings back to industry and consumers. Through 2007-08, the FSA conducted a large mystery shopping exercise on major banks’ face to face sales of PPI on loans.
As a result of this work, the FSA took enforcement action against 23 firms and 4 individuals for PPI sales failings. The fines for these firms totalled over £12.6mn.
The FSA then focused on the loss consumers might have suffered as a result of these poor sales practices. As a result, in 2010 the FSA introduced new rules and guidance to firms setting out in detail how firms should conduct the fair assessment and, where appropriate, redress of PPI complaints.
Firms started handling complaints under these new rules in 2011. The FSA conducted a robust supervisory programme to ensure firms handled complaints fairly in practice. This included taking subsequent disciplinary action for deficient complaint handling.
By 2014, firms were upholding 75% of PPI complaints as mis-sold, including in respect of sales made before January 2005.
The FSA also required firms to write to consumers they had identified through root cause analysis as being at high risk of having been mis-sold previously, to warn them of this and tell them how to complain. Firms sent 5.5m letters and paid over £3bn of redress to consumers who complained in response and were assessed to have been mis-sold.
In 2015, the FCA considered whether further intervention was necessary to ensure that those who had been mis-sold received the redress they were due. Following two consultations, in March 2017 we introduced a package of measures including an August 2019 deadline for making new complaints and a high-profile consumer communications campaign warning of the deadline and providing other information about PPI.
We considered that this package of measures:
• would prompt many consumers who want to complain, or to check whether they had PPI, but have not yet done so, into action, resulting in them potentially getting redress sooner, and giving some of them the opportunity to pay off costly debt;
• may encourage more consumers to complain directly to firms rather than using and paying CMCs or other paid advocates;
• may increase the efficiency of PPI complaints handling, to the benefit of consumers and firms; and
• would bring the PPI issue to an orderly conclusion, reducing uncertainty for firms about long-term PPI liabilities and helping rebuild public trust in the retail financial sector.
Since the launch of our consumer campaign on 29 August 2017, featuring the animated head of Arnold Schwarzenegger, over £3b of redress has been paid.
Whilst the 29 August 2019 deadline means that consumers will no longer be able to bring PPI complaints to firms under our rules, it does not prevent consumers from continuing to make legal claims about PPI through the courts if they so wish.
Your specific points and questions
You assert that the reckless mis-selling of financial products is a criminal offence, that
PPI was recklessly mis-sold, and that for victims, reckless mis-selling of PPI is no different to fraud, extortion and theft, and ask why no one been prosecuted for this criminal act?
The ‘reckless mis-selling of financial products’ is not itself a specific criminal offence. Knowingly or recklessly making a misleading statement to induce someone to enter into a transaction can constitute criminal misconduct. That requires very different evidence to an allegation that a product has not been sold in accordance with regulatory rules or in an unfair manner (what is usually termed a “mis-sale”).”
You further assert that there is no time limitation on investigating and prosecuting criminal behaviour and ask how can we introduce a PPI deadline?
Our deadline concerns the submission of new PPI complaints and has no impact on the time limits on or scope for enforcement action or criminal prosecution.
You conclude that bankers operate to a different and beneficial set of regulations to the general public.
Bankers, like members of the public, are held accountable under the law where the evidence concerning crimes or misdemeanours supports this.
Lastly, given your interest in some other recent financial conduct issues, we note that PPI selling has lain within our regulatory remit (perimeter) since January 2005, and that, even for sales before that date, most complaints to most firms about such PPI sales are also within the scope of our complaints handling rules and framework. That has facilitated our effective approach to addressing the poor conduct identified concerning PPI and redressing the consumer losses caused by it.