In October I wrote about the fact that it appeared that Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, had taken out a mortgage with HSBC whilst she was their European monitor for the Deferred Prosecution Agreement they entered into in the US.
This is an extract from the title deeds for her property (full document here). NB – I had previously redacted details of the address, but since the SFO have released the title number, this is no longer necessary.
From this it is clear that there is a charge (mortgage) dated 16 October 2017, in favour of HSBC Bank plc, a subsidiary company of HSBC Holdings plc. In December 2017 HSBC Holdings plc was released from its 5 year DPA.
Since this appeared to be a clear conflict of interest I made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Serious Fraud Office and received the following response today.FOI2018 183 Nicholas Wilson DSFO.PDF
The SFO state that Osofsky had to recuse herself from an investigation into Barclays plc because of client confidentiality; it follows therefore that she would not be able to investigate HSBC on similar grounds. However, of more interest is their footnote comment on her mortgage. They state “the 2017 register entries arose from the grant of an extended lease term and do not represent the original mortgage date (see Leasehold register BGL136100…..”. [here is the freehold title] The leasehold register is the one above in which it states “NOTE: Principal Deed formerly registered under NGL520576”, but there is no trace of such a record at HM Land Registry:
Without realising that the title number BGL136100 was the same as that which I had previously obtained copies of in October, today I purchased another copy (full document here). It appears that since my Freedom of Information Act request the deeds have been altered to show a different bank, HSBC UK Bank plc as the proprietor of the charge on the property, registered on 5 November 2018. HSBC UK Bank plc, incorporated in December 2015 is HSBC’s “ringfenced” bank.
I’m not quite sure what is going on here, but if Osofsky took out the mortgage in October 2017 as the records appear to show, then that was a conflict of interest. More concerning perhaps is that if Osofsky took out the mortgage in 2009 (three years before the DPA), as stated by the SFO, HSBC requested Exiger, Osofsky’s previous firm, headed by Michael Cherkasky was chosen by HSBC – Cherkasky is one of three candidates that HSBC nominated for the monitor job in January.