Jason Costain led the threat management and fraud analysis team at NatWest
NatWest’s head of fraud prevention left his job after working at a law firm bringing claims from scam victims against banks such as NatWest, This is Money can reveal.
Jason Costain was head of fraud prevention at NatWest bank and, as a high-profile employee, was often quoted in the press.
But he quietly left his role in 2023 after the bank took “appropriate internal action” after discovering he had been assisting the fraud department of Liverpool-based law firm CEL Solicitors.
According to a High Court ruling in June 2023, NatWest’s head of fraud was allegedly due to receive a £20,000 cash payment from CEL while still employed by NatWest as head of fraud strategy and relationship management.
High Court Judge Bever ruled that “on the balance of probabilities” CEL chief executive Paul Hampson asked an employee to set aside £20,000 in cash for Costain, although there is no firm evidence that this was ever done.
Hampson maintains that CEL never paid Costain, that it never gave the law firm any information from NatWest and that everything was correct.
CEL specializes in filing claims on behalf of people who have been defrauded, among other areas.
The exact nature of what Costain did for CEL between November 2020 and mid-2021 is unclear, and High Court Judge Adrian Bever said the law firm had not “provided me with a full picture of its dealings with Mr. Costain.”
However, Costain was involved in training CEL staff, creating fraud information content and responding to staff queries, according to High Court documents.
The whole time he was effectively moonlighting, as he was still employed by NatWest.
Costain also told This is Money he never received any money from CEL and never discussed any NatWest data with the law firm.
But the court heard Hampson sent an email to Costain in November 2020 asking him to give the law firm “a huge list of the bank’s breaches and rulings”.
Costain sent messages to a CEL staff WhatsApp group called ‘Golden Ticket’ saying: ‘If the banks are forced to refund the full amount, we will basically be in for a repeat of the PPI. We can handle everyone’s claim! “There are £500 million of losses looking for someone to manage their claim.”
These court documents add that at one point Costain was offered the position of CEL’s head of fraud by Hampson, who claims to have met him at a social event.
Costain was “often in the CEL office” and was involved in training staff, creating fraudulent content for CEL’s website and answering employee questions, former CEL chief financial officer Thomas Blanchfield said in court papers. .
Blanchfield added that Costain had access to hundreds of CEL files, many of which were successful claims against NatWest.
Another former CEL employee, litigation chief Mark Montaldo, says Costain acted as a CEL consultant and attended the office in 2021, according to court documents.
Blanchfield complained about Costain to NatWest and the Solicitors Regulatory Authority in January 2023.
In the High Court ruling, Blanchfield claims Hampson had asked him to arrange a payment to Costain of £20,000 in cash.
Hampson said Costain only provided information to CEL about the banking sector in general, and never about NatWest, and denies making the £20,000 payment.
The process between CEL and former officials was heard at the Manchester Civil Justice Center
Judge Bever added that the relationship between Costain and CEL was “unorthodox” and that “it is difficult to understand why Mr. Costain would devote time and energy to CEL when he apparently received no remuneration for doing so.”
Costain was offered a pay package of 20 per cent of the profits of CEL’s fraud department, which was later raised to 35 per cent, but he never accepted the offer and continued working at NatWest.
Judge Bever said in his judgment in June that “shortly before handing down this sentence I was informed that Mr Costain is no longer employed by NatWest.”
A NatWest spokesperson said: “We are aware of legal proceedings between third parties and that the conduct of a then employee of the bank was relevant to those proceedings.”
‘We take these matters very seriously and appropriate internal action was taken once the bank became aware of them.
“The ruling of the procedure did not conclude that our former employee had shared confidential information of the bank’s clients with CEL.”
Costain’s LinkedIn profile says he left NatWest in June 2023 after five years and four months at the company.
Hampson says Costain earned “£250,000 a year” at NatWest, according to court documents, although the former bank employee denies this.
In January 2023, Blanchfield and Montaldo resigned from CEL, partly due to concerns about Costain and also over CEL’s financial situation.
The duo then created their own law firm, MTCC Solutions. However, CEL took Blanchfield, Montaldo and MTCC to court, claiming that the duo had breached their contractual and legal obligations by creating MTCC.
The claim failed and the MTCC has now been dissolved, but the High Court ruling of June 29, 2023 revealed all previous claims about Costain.
A CEL spokesperson said: ‘CEL held exploratory talks with Mr Costain as a senior official in its team helping victims of bank and online fraud. All conversations were subject to strict confidentiality.
‘As part of these conversations, Mr Hampson requested, and Mr Costain shared, information about bank fraud and regulation, all of which was in the public domain.
‘The defendants’ evidence confirmed that Mr Costain never shared any confidential information with CEL. The judge accepted that Mr Costain was never paid for these conversations.
Costain said: ‘The court case was carried out without my involvement. I was not asked to be a witness in the legal case and I was not a party to the process.
‘The judge found that there was no evidence that he had received any money from CEL Solicitors and I am pleased to confirm that this was not the case. I was looking for a job in 2020 and discussed a potential position with CEL Solicitors.
‘As confirmed by the defendants in the 2023 legal case, I did not discuss any confidential information about NatWest with CEL Solicitors. We’re talking about information that was publicly available.’
Judge Bever said in the June 29 sentencing that “I have been left with the impression that I have only been aware of the tip of a large iceberg in terms of Mr. Costain’s relationship with CEL and Mr. Hampson” and that ” I do not accept that Mr Hampson has been open and frank with me in relation to CEL’s relationship with Mr Costain’.
The judge added that Costain had been “center stage” in the litigation, but that “the CEL has not called him to testify as a witness or provide evidence” and “he has largely remained in the background.”
Blanchfield said: “The content of the sentence speaks for itself, HHJ Beaver’s sentence was proven in our favour.”
A spokesman for law firm Knights, which represents Montaldo, said: “Mr Montaldo has nothing to add to the sentence which he believes speaks for itself. He is looking forward to putting the matter behind him and continuing with his successful career. legal.’
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