4 Comments

  1. Brian Clarke
    August 17, 2021 @ 3:42 pm

    It looks like our horror story is about to get worse.

    Reply

  2. Stephen
    September 6, 2021 @ 1:17 pm

    Angie is known for calling out the scammers and she is right to call them out – no one else seems to! However, in this post she is calling out the European Commission for approving a merger between two big insurance companies that she alleges, facilitated financial crime (more on this later).

    However, in my opinion, she is calling out the wrong people.

    Merger or no merger, I doubt it makes any difference to the victims, who were predominantly expats, of the scam orchestrated by these insurers over the past decade. The victims will remain financially ruined whether the two companies merge or not.

    Angie says, “Margrethe Vestager … has proved that the EU Commission hasn’t got a clue about Utmost’s and Quilter’s role in offshore financial services fraud” but in all honesty, whether Vestager has a clue or not, she can hardly make a decision on a merger based on the allegations of some expat living in Spain. The fact of the matter is, these insurance companies and their guilt or otherwise, remains unproven in any court. However, that said, one group of victims, part of a class action led by Niall Coburn, are supposedly taking legal action in the Isle of Man against Quilter and Friends Provident International(“FPI”).
    Niall submitted written testimony describing this action to the Paliamentary Inquiry into Pension scams[1] and there is an investigation report he authored in 2017 on his website[2]. There was some news media reports[3] of this class action in mid 2020 but everything has gone quiet since. Where it’s at I have no idea.

    In my opinion Angie would have been far better to call out the UK Work & Pensions Committee members[4 & 5] and some witnesses that contributed to that committee, for no one in that Parliamentary Inquiry, set up at the end of 2020 specifically to focus on Pension Scams, mentioned either Quilter et. al. or the damage done to expats over the past decade! Nor is this given any real estate in the report[6].

    On 16th September, 2020, the first oral session of that committee, a number of professionals in the industry gave evidence. Two of those, Andy Agathangelou, founder of the Transparency Task Force(“TTF”) and Margaret Snowden, Chair of the Pension Scams Industry Group(“PSIG”) both failed to mention anything about the role of big insurance giants (Quilter, formerly Old Mutual and FPI) in pension scams. Both big household names and PSIG actually has “Pension Scams” in its title!

    To summarise Coburn’s case[1 & 2], these insurance companies, circumvented UK regulations and sold inappropriate investment products wrapped in inappropriate insurance bonds to vulnerable expats for considerable commercial gain and knew, or ought to have known the disastrous outcomes these would have. Angie says pretty much the same thing in her points 1,2 & 3.

    When LC&F collapsed spectacularly in January 2019 there was a media frenzy. Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the Teeasury Select Committee wrote to the FCA Board a couple of months later[8], ordering an investigation. The committee set up to look into Pension Scams couldn’t even discuss the role of the big insurers in pension scams of the past decade let alone recommend an investigation!

    Angie alleges the insurance companies “facilitated financial crime.” I don’t know about “crime” but in my opinion, definitely they should be asked to defend tortious liability – which is in essence what Niall Coburn’s action pleads. However I do have issues with Coburn’s case described by [1 & 2].

    No one has yet had the courage to come out and just say it: in my opinion, the insurers actually intended to target retail investors. In my opinion that was their business plan from the get-go.

    Although the application from [mis-]advisers required they be licensed and the insurers didn’t check, in my opinion it was never intended they would be licensed. Although the investments were not suitable for retail investors, in my opinion it was always intended they would be promoted to retail investors.

    The reasoning is obvious. The insurers needed volume. That volume came from the large numbers of expat retail clients and especially from their pensions – there are insufficient sophisticated or professional investors to give the required volume. Appropriately qualified and licensed advisers would not recommend these products to retail clients so it was a necessary condition the [mis-]advisers not be qualified or licensed.

    To make it worthwhile to [mis-]advisers, the investments have to be offering high commissions and high returns to investors (seducing the unsophisticated) so they have to be high risk, unregulated rubbish.

    In my opinion it stands to reason this was the plan all along.

    In another of Angie’s blogs[9] from August 2020 she says:”I predict that the death offices will try to … blame the failed investments on their inappropriate advice”. Which, on the face of it seems a reasonable defence since the advisers are guilty of tort by deceit.

    It is easy to show the duty of care was owed to the investors by the [mis-]advisers, who fraudulently misrepresented their skill and knowledge, puporting to be IFA’s; the investors relied on their skill and knowledge and it was reasonable for them to do so and it was intended the investors would act on the [mis-]advice.

    So it is easy to show a duty of care existed and was breached by the [mis-]advisers. I am sure that if evidence can be found that the intention by the insurers was to recruit unqualified/unlicensed advisers and target retail investors then you probably have a good case for fraud.

    This, however, is not exactly the case Coburn seems to be advancing. There is no other case so publicly described as Coburn’s but I am of the opinion any others are going to be pretty much the same as Coburn’s.

    One plea by Coburn is the insurers are vicariously liable for the behaviour of their agents (the advisers) however I am not convinced for the same reasons in the Ingenious Media Ltd. litigation[10] §83 &84. I’m not going into it here. People can easily read it for themselves and make their own minds up.

    Whilst I have issues with Coburn’s action against Quilter and FPI, it really is the only game in town but has been very quiet for a year and with no recent updates I fear it may have fallen by the wayside. Apart from Angie’s legal action against [mis-]advisers in Spain re Continental Wealth Management, no one else is doing anything for existing victims.

    PSIG made a disappointing written submission for the Parliamentary Inquiry[11].

    They said in the Executive Summary Page 1: “.. estimate £10bn lost [to pension scams] but the focus should be on preventing more not recovering the £10bn”. Seriously? I doubt Margaret would be saying that if she was herself a victim facing financial ruin.

    No one, it seems, is interested in trying to recover victim’s ruined lives – except Angie and Coburn. Not even a Parliamentary Inquiry specifically focused on pension scams! Victims are definitely on their own and what’s worse, expat victims aren’t even on the “official” radar!

    This is what Angie should be calling out in my opinion!

    References:
    [1] Coburn’s submission to Parliamentary Inquiry:
    https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/20898/html/

    [2] https://coburnci.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Investigation-report-Portfolio-Bond-Final-28-February-2017.pdf.pdf

    [3] Media Articles on Coburn’s Law Suit (from June 2020):
    https://www.ftadviser.com/investments/2020/06/10/quilter-and-friends-provident-face-100m-misselling-claim/
    and:
    https://international-adviser.com/investors-launch-legal-claim-against-two-life-insurance-giants/

    [4] https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/164/work-and-pensions-committee/membership/

    [5] Parliamentary Inquiry Committee membership 2020
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_and_Pensions_Select_Committee#Membership_(2020-present)

    [6] Parliamentary Inquiry Report 24 March 2021:
    https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/5322/documents/53036/default/

    [7] Parliamentary Inquiry Pension Scams Oral evidence 16 Sep 2020
    https://committees.parliament.uk/event/2014/formal-meeting-oral-evidence-session/

    [8] https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/158/treasury-committee/news/98790/nicky-morgan-asks-fca-to-investigate-events-at-london-capital-and-finance/

    [9]https://pension-life.com/international-adviser-awards-quilter-investment-scams/

    [10] Coutts & Nat West judgement §83 & 84. in what was called the Ingenious Media Ltd. litigation
    https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2019/3299.html

    [11] PSIG’s submission to Parliamentary Inquiry:-
    https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/11225/default/

    Reply

    • Angie
      September 6, 2021 @ 4:43 pm

      I think there are some elephants in the room – big stinky ones. Remember that one of the top geezers at Quilter is on an FCA panel. Remember that the BBC tried to derail the Spanish criminal case. Remember that Margaret Snowdon makes her money by giving awards and accreditations to the ceding providers to the companies who hand the funds over to the scammers. Remember that Boris Johnson has victims (whom he promised – falsely – to “help”) in his own constituency. Remember that few of the press or media outlets do high-viz stuff about Brits getting defrauded out of their pensions and life savings. Remember that the BBC said it “wasn’t sexy enough” to broadcast. What has Stephen Timms achieved? What has PSIG achieved? You’ve got repeat, well-known scammers driving around in their Bentleys and Chelsea Tractors and boasting about their country mansions and yachts – free as a bird. You’ve got a hopeless SFO which achieves SFA. And a non-existent Action Fraud. The elephant is that nobody wants to do anything, because it is easier to say nothing (perhaps tut a bit), do nothing, broadcast or print as little as possible, and pretend it will go away and that it is somebody else’s problem. Chaps in the House of Commons or Lords could stroll down to Quilter’s offices and give them a slap on the wrist with a waggly willy if they cared – but do they bother? No chance!

      Reply

  3. Stephen
    September 8, 2021 @ 9:58 am

    I agree it is easier to say nothing and do nothing and print/broadcast as little as possible.

    I am also of the opinion no one (bar you) has the courage to print or say anything against the insurers for fear of legal action. I believe these big insurers would not think twice about taking on the BBC or a National paper – unlike the bottom feeders like Nunn & McCreesh, or Square Mile who don’t have the resources to take on the BBC. What’s bizarre however, is the Parliamentary Inquiry has “parliamentary privilege” … but still they never mentioned it.

    Timms (along with the committee members) have achieved nothing but they obviously believe they have “done a good job”. They can tick the box – “job done” now file it in the round bin and forget it, move onto the next topic.

    However you, David Parry and Coburn are doing “something” (although I am not sure about Parry other than what I gleaned when he accidentally included me on an email moaning about you pulling support and jeopardising his class action) even if you three are not flying in formation but instead appear to be throwing rocks at each other. But that’s another story.

    No one bothers because no one cares. The BBC is right – it isn’t “sexy” enough because non-victims really have zero sympathy for victims.

    You just can’t sell the story to the non-victim population. No one cares.

    PS I don’t remember the BBC trying to derail the Spanish case if I’m honest ….

    Reply

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