In this post I will deal with the lesser players who have directly benefitted from minimising HSBC losses due to their imposition of illegal charges on defaulting accounts.
I helped a few consumers recover the illegal charges from HSBC through the Financial Ombudsman Service. In cases where the debt had been paid off in full there was generally no problem for FOS to order the bank to repay the charges. However, in cases where there was still a balance outstanding (the majority) FOS allowed the bank the deduct the offending charges from the outstanding balance. This is in direct contradiction to the FOS policy on Payment Protection Insurance redress where they order the banks to repay the premiums whether there is an outstanding balance or not.
I wrote to the CEO of FOS, Natalie Ceeney asking for the source of their advice for such a policy, because under the law of set-off it is simply wrong. Ms Ceeney stated that such advice was confidential to FOS and refused me any information.
In February 2014 Ms Ceeney left FOS and started working at HSBC as Head of Customer Standards, an appointment which “raised eyebrows“. However, her role at HSBC didn’t last long (probably just long enough to be richly rewarded) because Ms Ceeney then left HSBC and in January 2015 became Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service – the organisatioin that had refused me access to public domain county court judgment information which I had requested in order to help consumers recover the charges from HSBC.
In November 2010 the Office of Fair Trading made an order against HFC Bank (HSBC) telling them to stop adding the illegal charges to accounts. In the course of his investigation against the Financial Conduct Authority for their failures to act on my report of the fraud, the Complaints Commissioner Anthony Townsend revealed that the OFT, in their investigation had only uncovered 4 cases of the illegal charges:
I have details of many more than 4 cases and in one case I have dealt with the “overcharging” was £4,962. I estimate 5-600,000 consumers were affected to a total of £1bn. I have been told by Ray Watson, who signed the OFT order, that the person conducting the investigation for the OFT now works at HSBC. I asked him for the name but he stated that as he is bound by the Official Secrets Act, he was unable to give me that information.
Ruth Kelly resigned as an MP following an expenses scandal, where she had reclaimed on expenses for damage incurred by a burst pipe, damage which was already covered by an insurance policy. No matter, she went on to work for HSBC. Following the FCA agreeing to reopen the investigation into the HSBC fraud in December 2015, in January 2016 they announced that that had appointed Ruth Kelly as a non-executive director of the FCA.