The Serious Fraud Office is investigating potentially fraudulent sales of mortgage-backed securities in the UK in the run up to the financial crisis.
The scoping exercise aims to examine the risks of cases coming to light over the next 12 to 18 months, and what resources such cases might require.
The probe comes after it emerged US regulator Federal Housing Finance Agency is filing lawsuits against 17 banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays, for their role in the sale of toxic mortgage bonds to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 2005 and 2007.
A spokeswoman for the SFO says: “The scoping exercise is a development of earlier work over the last two to three years looking at City-based fraud risks. One aspect of this is looking at asset-backed securities.
“The SFO is looking to understand the risks of significant cases of fraud coming to light in this arena in the next 12-18 months; how these cases might need to be handled and whether new tools might be required or be more appropriate to help tackle those risks.”