HELP US TO HELP YOU!

Posted on July 16, 2015


You doubtless heard that the Financial Conduct Authority-intermediated negotiations between the Fund’s hapless Operators and the liquidators fell apart in March, after nine months and countless hundreds of billable hours of fruitless discussion.

What you’ve heard about the reasons for the break depends on who you are. If you’re a politician, you’ve probably been fed the lying toad Martin Wheatley’s self-serving spin, namely that the noble, consumer-focused FCA was unhappy with Capita’s best offer and decided it could do better by launching an investigation.

If you’re close to the inside track of investor sentiment you probably picked up something much closer to the truth. We understand the FCA made it clear to all parties that it was never going to issue a restitution order against a ‘big fish’ such as Capita – indeed, the only time it or the FSA has done so is when it forced an individual to compensate a hedge fund for causing it to lose money in a manipulated market – so the best the liquidators could hope for was a token contribution. With expectations set low, a deal was negotiated under which Capita would have made a small payment toward investors’ losses in return for a no-investigation, no-penalty ‘get out of jail free’ deal from its captured, self-serving regulator.

Sadly for Capita, fate intervened, in the shape of an imminent, too-close-to-call General Election. At the final hour, the Grey Vampire realised his tenuous grip on the post would be severed, very publicly, if 1500 investors were forced to go to the media to protest about such a dire financial outcome, and about a division of a FTSE100 outsourcing giant that generates much of its income from taxpayers being allowed to get away almost scot free with concealing a £100m+ fraud. So he walked away from the deal to prevent embarrassing his political masters. That’s the truth, despite Wheatley’s protestations to the contrary.

If there’s a silver lining to this particular cloud, it’s that Capita’s top brass must be spitting tacks. Oh, and the fact that we know politicians recognise that we have the moral authority and influence with the media that come from having been very badly treated, for very long, by the regulatory authorities.

So we should not be disheartened. Capita, and its protectors at the FCA, lost a battle, and the war is going our way. So we should do more of what we know works: briefing politicians, and being a thorn in the side of the FCA. That way, the FCA will realise that, for once, the organisation’s interests will be best served by putting together a restitution and FSCS package that compensates us in full and thus gets us and politicians off its institutional back, even if it risks the ire of its client, Capita.

As you know, the FCA has announced an investigation into the Operators’ conduct. When the FCA nixed discussions in March, we suspect the plan was to drag out the investigation for a couple of years, then resurrect a deal similar to the one it scuppered. But Wheatley’s position gets more tenuous by the day, and if we can play a part in his departure, it is likely that we will have the ear of his successor.

To do this, we need your help. Here’s what we need you to do.

  1. Write to your MP

As you probably know, an All-Party Parliamentary Group has been established to represent investors’ interests at Westminster; it is chaired by Guto Bebb MP. It urgently needs more members, both because size matters and because more people can make more noise. So we’d like you to write to your MP to ask him or her to join the group (or to re-join it if he/she was a member before the Election).

To help you, we’ve drafted three letters. Letter one is for existing MPs (those re-elected this May) who were not previously members of the APPG. Letter two is for existing MPs who were in the APPG in the last Parliament. And letter three is for MPs newly elected in 2015.

Don’t know who your MP is, or when he/she was elected to Parliament? Enter your postcode here and click on ‘Profile’ on the left menu.

Don’t know whether your MP was a member of the APPG before the General Election? There’s a list here.

Whichever version of the letter you use, PLEASE personalise it. Fill in their name and yours, as a minimum. If your mojo’s rising, feel free to add some personal detail about how much money you invested, the stress or hardship it has caused you or family members, or anything else that will make the MP empathise with you.

You will note that the letters all ask MPs to write to Martin Wheatley’s ultimate boss, Harriett Baldwin, the new Economic Secretary to the Treasury. It also refers to a briefing document to help MPs drafting such correspondence. It can be found here. Please ensure you enclose it with your letter to your MP.

  1. Attend the FCA’s annual public meeting – and ask a question

The FCA has repeatedly refused the courtesy of a meeting with the liquidators’ committee elected by you to represent your interests. We think that’s unacceptable, given that more than three years have passed since the Fund was suspended and that the regulator has only now announced an investigation, despite us demanding one in October 2012. And it’s a downright insult given that the FCA, and the FSA before it, missed so many opportunities to stop the Fund before it got going, or to bring it to an earlier end.

Luckily for us – and unluckily for the FCA – it is obliged to hold an annual meeting, and to take questions from the public. That meeting is scheduled for 10am next Wednesday (22 July). We’d like as many people as possible to attend, and to ask questions.

If you can make it, please email connaughtactiongroup@gmail.com to let us know. We’ll provide information on how to register, and will also liaise with you regarding question preparation. We have some specific questions we’d like your help in asking, so please get in touch with us BEFORE you register.

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