Clydesdale fined £20.6m over PPI complaints

The FCA has fined Clydesdale Bank £20.6m over serious failings in the way it handled payment protection insurance complaints – the largest fine imposed to date for PPI-related failings.

The FCA says in mid-2011 Clydesdale implemented inappropriate policies that meant its PPI complaint handlers were not taking into account all relevant documents when deciding how to deal with complaints. 

Between May 2012 and June 2013, Clydesdale also provided false information to the Financial Ombudsman Service in response to requests for evidence of the records the bank held on PPI policies sold to individual customers. 

A team within Clydesdale’s PPI complaint-handling operation altered certain system printouts in a small number of cases to make it look as if Clydesdale held no relevant documents and deleted all PPI information from a separate printout listing the products sold to the customer. 

These practices were not known to or authorised by Clydesdale’s PPI leadership team or more senior management.

As a result of Clydesdale’s conduct, of the 126,600 PPI complaints decided between May 2011 and July 2013, up to 42,200 may have been rejected unfairly. Up to 50,900 upheld complaints may have resulted in inadequate redress.

FCA acting director of enforcement and market oversight Georgina Philippou says: “Clydesdale’s failings were unacceptable and fell well below the standard the FCA expects. The fact that Clydesdale misled the FOS by providing false information about the information it held is particularly serious and this is reflected in the size of the fine.”

Clydesdale’s policies meant that, for PPI complaints about loans and mortgages that had been repaid more than seven years prior to the date of the complaint, its complaint handlers would not search for any documents on the basis that they fell outside Clydesdale’s seven-year document retention period.

However, in some cases relevant documents were readily available.

When calculating redress for credit card PPI complaints, handlers ignored those credit card statements that Clydesdale held for the period before the year 2000.

The FCA also found that complaint handlers were failing to identify cases where the PPI policy sold was unsuitable for the customer, and found deficiencies in the training and monitoring of complaint handlers.

Clydesdale will review all PPI complaints handled prior to August 2014 and offer redress to any customers affected by the failings.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks acting chief executive Debbie Crosbie says: “We deeply regret any instance that led to the FOS receiving incorrect or incomplete information from us.”