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Pension Life Blog - Square Mile International - qualified and registered? David Vilka Square Mile

Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered?

This week, in my mission to disclose advisory firms´ claims to qualifications (or in fact the lack of them),  I am looking into Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered?

What the Square Mile website page says:

Pension Life Blog - Square Mile International Financial Services - qualified and registered? David Vilka Square Mile

Despite referring to their Prague headquarters in a lovely paragraph:

“Square Mile has a dedicated customer care and administrative team based in our headquarters in the beautiful historic Old Town quarter of Prague, in the Czech Republic. Aside from picturesque surroundings, being in the very heart of Europe allows our customer services team to easily service our clients all over Europe, as well as placing us within 90 mins of London’s own ‘Square Mile’ where we have our UK team, and extensive links and partnerships with some of the worlds top financial institutions.”

…their website fails to list their team members, so over to Linkedin to see who the lucky people are.

But, firstly, a bit of background information about Square Mile, just in case you haven´t heard of them.

Pension Life Blog - Square Mile International Financial Services - qualified and registered? David Vilka Square Mile

Square Mile International in Prague is run by David Vilka, a name that has been the star of several other Pension Life blogs. Vilka is linked to the Blackmore Global Investment Fund scam which saw victims’ pensions invested in dodgy AND illegal (for UK residents) UCIS funds. It should also be noted that David Vilka of Square Mile International Financial – was not regulated to give investment advice, but did so anyway.

Vilka transferred at least 65 pensions into a Hong Kong QROPS and then invested them into the Blackmore Global fund, courtesy of Phillip Nunn and Patrick McCreesh of Aspinal Chase. Blackmore Global is an unregulated fund, which has never had an independent audit. Investors fear their pension funds may well be lost, as there is no evidence as to where the money has gone. David Vilka has showed no shame for what he did, and has made no attempt to recover any remainder of his victims´pensions.

So, Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered?

IFAs and their clients are invited to add to this blog, correct it or improve it. Here’s a link to the three registers if you want to double check:

http://www.cii.co.uk/web/app/membersearch/MemberSearch.aspx

https://www.cisi.org/cisiweb2/cisi-website/join-us/cisi-member-directory

https://www.libf.ac.uk/members-and-alumni/sps-and-cpd-register – Claim to a DipFA

Please note that this data is correct as of 29/08/2018.

Staff list for Square Mile International Prague office:

  1. David Vilka – Managing Director – DOES NOT APPEAR ON ANY REGISTER – but we knew that already!
  2. Alan West – Head of Client Services –  DOES NOT APPEAR ON ANY REGISTER

Well, the Square Mile International Prague offices´ dedicated customer care and administrative team´ doesn´t inspire much confidence. Only two staff members are listed – one of them is known to be linked to pension scams – and neither has any financial qualifications!

Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered? 0%

On a final note, this is the statement made on the Square Mile  retirement solutions section of their webpage:

´PENSION SCAMS & LIBERATION: BE AWARE– No properly authorised scheme should be able to offer benefits to you before age 55 – any scheme offering this facility or any adviser claiming to be able to do this is almost certainly involved in pension liberation. A bonafide scheme, whether UK or International, will be listed on the HMRC website. There is much sensationalism written about pension scams. The truth is that there are many more very good investments opportunities and very few scams in comparison. Good investments don’t sell newspapers so inevitably the few rotten apples make the headlines. Simple steps such as: checking your adviser is regulated in an EEA jurisdiction and is correctly passported into your jurisdiction, checking the levels of remuneration the adviser will receive, checking the lock-in clauses with the investment scheme and any penalties, and confirming directly with any professional advisers, auditors, or lawyers named on the investment of their involvement.  Despite what is written an alternative or esoteric investment as part of a portfolio can reap very good rewards if proper research is undertaken.´

Pension Life Blog - Square Mile International Financial Services - qualified and registered? David Vilka Square MileInterestingly, David Vilka (pictured here with John Ferguson, who was also involved in the Blackmore Global scam) is not regulated to give financial advice on pensions or investments, but did so anyway. The Blackmore Global scam victims are locked into a toxic investment fund, that should not have been sold to them as UK residents. Furthermore, they face penalties if they wish to withdraw the little they have left in the fund, as they are locked in for 10 years. No move has been made by any of the perpetrators to help these victims.

Square Mile International should be placed at arm´s length by anyone who wants a secure future for their pension fund.

12 thoughts on “Square Mile International Financial Services – qualified and registered?”

  1. I am the undisputed “expert” on this company and the pond life that run it and you would have been wise to involve me in this blog and it would have been a much better – and more accurate – account. I will of course comment shortly – as I am sure you no doubt expected.

    1. Stephen, I would never challenge your leadership in terms of being an expert on Square Mile in particular and pension scams in particular. You should be celebrated and respected as such, and I very much look forward to your comments which we will, of course, incorporate into the blog. I have no doubt that David Vilka will be most grateful for any improvement in the accuracy by you.

  2. I have little doubt the pond life will attempt yet another legal threat against Angie for this blog. However, here are some irrefutable facts to add to the article.

    The first error in the article is the statement UCIS’s are illegal for UK “residents” – this is not true. I could be a sophisticated or High Net Worth UK resident and participate in UCIS’s to my hearts content. The thing that is unlawful is the invitation to UK retail clients to participate in UCIS’s.

    I make no apologies just how complex this next bit gets but the pond life have deliberately obfuscated the situation and it is, imho, important for people – plus any 2-bit lawyers thinking of asserting yet another defamation claim – to see exactly how these people work.

    Firstly, the web page in the article refers to Square Mile Financial Services, a separate legal entity to Square Mile International Financial (“SMIF”)! The pond life actually own both and seem to interchange them whenever it suits them. However, there is no record these two companies have any legal ties until 29th Dec 2015 when it seems SMIF became a “partner” of the other. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1z7AQi9yoCVVnEtSB_NWC14JxDuchgktd

    SMIF began life as Aktiva Wealth Management (“AWM”), on 22nd May 2014, then changed its name to Square Mile International Financial on 11th June 2015, and changed its name again on 15th Nov 2017 to Michalska Holding sro. So in effect, SMIF no longer exists, it’s now Michalska Holding sro. What it’s doing now, I have no idea but before doing business with Michalska Holding, I advise you research its provenance – https://drive.google.com/open?id=1BHODVw5ZozsdMYNGOtpSNZ8etzxhPBSA

    On the Letter of Authority (“LoA”) given to my ceding provider Mercer, in January 2015, Aktiva made the claim they were registered with the Czech National Bank (“CNB”), https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Kc36C-Dm87daMTR4EYtzfmGViZ5ZmJAh However the CNB record shows they were not registered until 5th May 2015 – and by the way only as Insurance Agents! https://drive.google.com/open?id=1OiGatzgf16lSYdbA5YSYhrxGOLB3xCsT Also, note, their legal tie is with SMIF – not Square Mile Financial Services – that was not registered with the CNB until 12th June 2015. So at the material time, the LoA makes fraudulent misrepresentation, which by the way Mercer did not pick up on because they couldn’t be arsed to check it despite the 2 year old Scorpion Campaign!

    My guess is many of the victims Angie is dealing with will have dealt with AWM and may likewise have similar LoA’s with fraudulent misrepresentation.

    So that’s the company background.

    Now for Vilka. In an email to me 29th May 2016 he said “…I am qualified to UK adviser standards and have ifs Level 4 diploma for Financial Advisers and Professional Certificate in Banking.” I have no idea whether he holds these qualifications or not.

    His LinkedIn profile https://drive.google.com/open?id=16mG9C9HJ6mvp_I3iFNryE3f2lhMl8Bri shows he worked for Halifax – who merged with Bank of Scotland in 2001, from 2008 to 2015 but the FCA record (under History) https://register.fca.org.uk/ShPo_IndividualDetailsPage?id=003b000000KT0rdAAD shows he was at BoS – as CF30 – from 2008 to 2012. A 3 year discrepancy. I asked the FCA for clarification but they said I would have to ask the Halifax who they get their information from. I believe the FCA record if I’m honest, because I know who wrote the LinkedIn profile – the same guy, who said in an email to me on 27th May 2016, “… I do not appreciate being called a liar” – seriously? – and in the same email tried telling me my pension was only down £3000 when in actual fact, at the material time, it had lost £30,000 and was haemorrhaging at an alarming rate! I wonder if the sky is a different colour on his planet?

    It was not just Blackmore Global that victims got invested in. Pension-life reported on an email from Ferguson dated Aug 2015, describing the business strategy – https://pension-life.com/not-so-square-mile-and-far-from-lilly-white/ – which states a proportion is invested in Nunn & McCreesh’s Blackmore Global when introduced by Aspinal Chase, and Manish’s Christianson Property Capital when introduced by Manish’s firm. Christianson Property Capital – https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/09062148/officers – has been reviewed here by Bondreview: https://bondreview.co.uk/2018/02/09/christianson-property-capital-unregulated-loan-notes-paying-10-over-10-years/ and there are some follow blogs by bondreview.

    Both AWM and SMIF are also referenced by Ferguson’s email.

    So qualified and registered? Well, there is no evidence of qualifications other than Vilka’s assertions and SMIF was registered with the CNB for Insurance Mediation ONLY, not giving investment advice nor transferring pensions. However, when SMIF began life as Aktiva Wealth Management they weren’t even registered to do that until 5th May 2015! Further, inviting retail clients to participate in Unregulated Collectives is unlawful.

    If it looks like a spiv, dresses like a spiv and lies like a spiv – guess what …

  3. Actually Qualified

    Stephen,

    What an excellently researched comment.

    I think I can answer one point that you have raised. The reason someone ”may” wish to extend their FCA regulation on their Linkedin profile revolves around what happened on 01/01/2013. This was the day the Retail Distribution Review came into force in the UK. These new rules, among many other many others, had two important changes

    1. A minimum level qualification at level 4 diploma (NVQ)
    2. A ban on commission for investment products

    This had the desired affects of ridding the UK market of those not competent to get qualified and those that sold commission products. There was a big of an exodus offshore for those that could not meet the standards/wanted commission.

    When dealing with an adviser that was on the FCA register up to December 2012 only, treat this as a red flag. I am guessing this individual has extended his actual date of regulation to hide this red flag. Perhaps he can come onto this forum and enlighten us?

    1. Thank you.

      I agree. That quite likely is the reason for “extending” their FCA regulation in a LinkedIn profile. However, from where I’m sitting, it’s fraudulent misrepresentation when used to claim they are qualified and authorised to give investment advice and transfer pensions.

      Vilka often comes to view Angie’s blogs, then pays some 2-bit lawyer to write to her, claiming he is qualified, done nothing wrong, been reviewed by regulators in various jurisdictions blah blah blah, then accuses her of defamation, but it all fades away when they are asked to put some hard evidence on the table. To date they have provided none. I dislike these people intensely!

  4. Hi
    My name is Derek Morris I live in Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire
    I was advised back in 2015 to transfer my pension into a pension fund called Optimus been trying to track it down ever since.
    At the time I was advised I was under a great deal of pressure with my work which I nearly suffered a nervous breakdown from.
    I was cold at the time and when I look back I think to myself how stupid I was.
    But you have to look forward not backwards!
    Don’t see myself as a clever Guy I’ve been a butcher for 40 years and had a little bit of money tucked away in a pension with Canada Life.
    Then the cold call came back in 2015.
    6 months ago I decided to find out if I could transfer my pension back to the UK.
    Now the fun beginning so many companies I was confused and still am.
    Appoint I’m up to now years I contacted Optimus they’ve sent a letter to Blackmore they told Optimus that my pension was locked in for 10 years so I have another 5 years to go if I wanted to to transfer it I would have to wait a long period of time + pay x amount of charges.
    I don’t know whether you can help or not but what are the chances of me getting any of my money back whatsoever in the near future.
    pa HELP!!!!!

  5. I know that I am replying to a very old blog, however I came across this while revisiting the Pension Life archives in search of the article that prompted Lee Eldridge to email Angie to request a discussion about removing the offending allegations made against him.

    For those that don’t know, Mr Eldridge, along with his always ‘front-of-house’ wife Georgina are now operating under the name Chase Buchanan from Cyprus.

    Prior to that he was acting as an unregulated adviser in the UK whilst claiming to be “based in Switzerland”, as if this justified unlawfully recommending UK clients to invest in UCIS funds through offshore life bonds.

    In fact, so spurious was this practice, even for him, that it further required the forgery of a ridiculous disclaimer in which we as the clients are supposed to have acknowledged that we knew he, the product and the product provider were unregulated but on that basis we still wished the bond be approved.

    I described this crude disclaimer in Eldridge’s sloping scrawl as “ridiculous”, but apparently that was to everyone except Generali (now Utmost).

    This is despite them having five original samples of each of our respective signatures on the application form it was submitted with to compare his fabricated offering to.

    This negligance or ‘wilfull blindness’ on Generali’s part actually pales into insignificance given how complicit they later proved to be in validating the criminal behaviour prior to the (six-figure) transfer of funds. I digress…..

    Anyway, as Stephen descibed above (on 31-8-18) in the case of Square Mile, the Eldridges’ deception also relied upon making the distinction between their two “Finsbury” entities by using the word “International” in one.

    Thus, after fraudulently misrepresenting himself as being part of the FCA regulated Finsbury Financial Limited to establish trust, once the inevitable complaints were made the pair would play out an elaborate charade.

    Managing director Georgina Eldridge (or whoever was pulling her strings from the shadows) would exclaim “You seem to be confused. Finsbury International is a completely separate company. I’ll forward your letter to Switzerland”.

    Quite why she didn’t just pass it over the breakfast table at their home on the Surrey / Hampshire border is anyone’s guess. But it may be explained when the official response arrives from the “Swiss company” that she apparently forwarded it to….. curiously with the reply postmarked “Farnham”.

    As you can imagine, there is a lot more to this case, and all will be revealed. On here, online and in the press……I certainly wouldn’t rule out “in court” either yet if my dialogue with the Metropolitan Police over additional pages to a recent publication is anything to go by!

    1. Geoffrey Stanway

      Hi. I am a Lawyer working in Cyprus. A Client here has a similar issue. Eldridge diverted a Commission from Quilter (£55,000) to the Swiss Company having promised it to the client to reduce a penalty of £78,000 to leave an RL360 Bond. Interested in discussing this with you.. The Swiss Company could not operate in Cyprus.

      1. I would be interested to know more about using two bonds – both Quilter and RL360 – without a valid insurance or investment license. If the penalty was £78k, the portfolio must have been substantial.

  6. I know that I am replying to a very old blog, however I came across this while revisiting the Pension Life archives in search of the article that prompted Lee Eldridge to email Angie to request a discussion about removing the offending allegations made against him.

    For those that don’t know, Mr Eldridge, along with his always ‘front-of-house’ wife Georgina are now operating under the name Chase Buchanan from Cyprus.

    Prior to that he was acting as an unregulated adviser in the UK whilst claiming to be “based in Switzerland”, as if this justified unlawfully recommending UK clients to invest in UCIS funds through offshore life bonds.

    In fact, so spurious was this practice, even for him, that it further required the forgery of a ridiculous disclaimer in which we as the clients are supposed to have acknowledged that we knew he, the product and the product provider were unregulated but on that basis we still wished the bond be approved.
    I described this crude disclaimer in Eldridge’s sloping scrawl as “ridiculous”, but apparently that was to everyone except Generali (now Utmost).

    This is despite them having five original samples of each of our respective signatures on the application form it was submitted with to compare his fabricated offering to.

    This negligence or ‘wilful blindness’ on Generali’s part actually pales into insignificance given how complicit they later proved to be in validating the criminal behaviour prior to the (six-figure) transfer of funds. I digress…..
    Anyway, as Stephen described above (on 31-8-18) in the case of Square Mile, the Eldridge’s’ deception also relied upon making the distinction between their two “Finsbury” entities by using the word “International” in one.

    Thus, after fraudulently misrepresenting himself as being part of the FCA regulated Finsbury Financial Limited to establish trust, once the inevitable complaints were made the pair would play out an elaborate charade.
    Managing director Georgina Eldridge (or whoever was pulling her strings from the shadows) would exclaim “You seem to be confused. Finsbury International is a completely separate company. I’ll forward your letter to Switzerland”.

    Quite why she didn’t just pass it over the breakfast table at their home on the Surrey / Hampshire border is anyone’s guess. But it may be explained when the official response arrives from the “Swiss company” that she apparently forwarded it to….. curiously with the reply postmarked “Farnham”.

    As you can imagine, there is a lot more to this case, and all will be revealed. On here, online and in the press……I certainly wouldn’t rule out “in court” either yet if my dialogue with the Metropolitan Police over additional pages I have suggested adding to a recent publication to demonstrate in detail just how a scam is operated is anything to go by!

  7. Good Morning.

    I’m presently in email and telephone contact with 3 financial services firms in Spain,to discuss the transfer of my U.K. private pension, 1 of which is Spectrum IFA.
    My contact is Dennis Radford, he has told me today in a reply email, having asked the question “ have you or you 2 colleagues ever been involved with mis-selling of pensions, he replied, “ Not directly involved, but l did work for a firm who were, as soon l became aware l found a safe place for my clients (spectrum) then left, and joined them.
    His 2 colleagues are David O’Donoghue and Jonathan Goodman.
    Apart from the short video which l have seen on Utube, relating to Dennis Radford and CWM, l would appreciate any comments you may have about my email.
    If you would like to see the correspondence between myself and Dennis, l am happy to supply it.

    Thanks
    Terry McCue.

    1. Hi Terry, thanks for reaching out. Dennis Radford was one of the scammers at Continental Wealth Management and successfully scammed a number of victims out of their pensions – placing them into insurance bonds illegally (Old Mutual International – now known as Quilter) and then investing their pensions in toxic, high-risk structured notes which were only suitable for professional investors. Radford left Continental Wealth Management to join Spectrum IFA and I have dealt with several reports of him continuing to operate the same illegal, scamming methods – selling insurance bonds and then toxic investments. You should also be aware that Spectrum does not have an investment license – only an insurance mediation license. It is very common for scammers to give investment advice with only an insurance license as the European regulator allows this as long as the victim is sold an insurance bond (such as Quilter) and then the investments can legally be picked from the range of toxic, high-risk, commission laden investments which bond providers offer on their platforms. The Malta regulator (the MFSA) has since changed the regulations in Malta so that only an adviser with an investment license can provide investment advice – quite rightly so. The Spectrum website claims that there are: internationally qualified, professional advisers” at the firm – but they don’t say who they are or how they are qualified to provide investment advice. Radford isn’t listed on either the CII or CISI registers as being qualified. I would be very interested to see the correspondence between you and Radford and also to know if he has suggested putting you into an insurance bond – or transferring a UK pension into a QROPS.

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