HBOS says it will not be rushed in its investigation of three high street branch mortgage advisers accused of encouraging clients to lie about self-certified income.
Three Birmingham Midshires Solutions branch staff are accused of encouraging BBC reporters posing as self-certification applicants to lie about their income, but the group says it will not subject the accused to “trial by TV” nor will it be rushed in its internal investigations.
The Wolverhampton-based lender has already recalled 25 advisers for “intensive training” in appropriate self-cert mortgage procedures. It has also temporarily suspended self-certification business from its branches, though it stresses self-cert accounts for less than 1% of branch business.
Shane O'Riordan, head of communications for the HBOS Group, says: “Of the three incidents involving Birmingham Midshires, none of the applications got through to mortgage offer.
“There are checks and balances between application and offer. We credit score, complete documentation checks and frequently reject applications where we feel multiples do not stack up. We won't tolerate any behaviour that compromises our brand.”
HBOS notified the Financial Services Authority of its actions when it received notice of the BBC's plans to broadcast the documentary.
O'Riordan adds: “Inflating earnings is a criminal offence and is also far from an easy option. If an applicant inflates their earnings they suffer when faced with inflated monthly repayments. We operate on the basis that most people are honest and know that inflating income is not cost-free.”