New financial savings scandal in wake of LCF and Woodford fiascos: Entrepreneur accused of duping savers in ‘unlawful’ £230m airport car parking scheme
A serial entrepreneur has been accused of duping 1000’s of aged savers as half of an ‘unlawful’ £230million airport car parking scheme.
In the most recent scandal to rock the funding trade, the Financial Conduct Authority has launched authorized motion towards companies together with Park First and their bosses.
The net of corporations are half of the Lancashire-based enterprise empire run by 42-year-old Toby Whittaker, who’s being investigated by the Government’s Insolvency Service over one other alleged £206million funding rip-off involving storage models. Park First denied it did something unlawful.
Probe: Park First entrepreneur Toby Whittaker is being investigated by the Government’s Insolvency Service over one other alleged £206m funding rip-off involving storage models
But former pensions minister Baroness Altmann referred to as for ‘tighter regulation’ of the funding trade and mentioned these working scams gave the impression to be ‘laughing at regulators’.
The row follows the collapse of financial savings agency London Capital and Finance – based by Simon Hume-Kendall – and the implosion of Neil Woodford’s funding empire, leaving savers nursing heavy losses.
The FCA is in search of compensation by from Park First for round four,500 buyers, many aged, who have been persuaded to place their cash in an ‘unlawful’ airport car parking scheme.
Savers parted with £230million in whole – or a mean of greater than £51,000 every. Many used their self-invested private pensions to place cash within the scheme, which concerned shopping for car park areas at Gatwick and Glasgow airports after which leasing them again to the corporate.
Some of the victims are suing Whittaker in a push for £6million in compensation. The FCA mentioned the airport parking scheme was ‘promoted to the general public utilizing false or deceptive statements’.
Investors have been promised a assured return of as much as 12 per cent a yr.
The watchdog mentioned the savers have been additionally informed they’d acquired a cut price and that the parking areas have been price 25 per cent greater than they’d paid for them.
Former LCF boss Simon Hume-Kendall, left, and disgraced fund manger Neil Woodford, proper
After the returns they have been promised dried up, buyers have been left with airport car parking areas they declare are not possible to promote.
The FCA stopped Whittaker and his fellow administrators from advertising and marketing the scheme in 2016.
But as an alternative of shutting them down it allowed them to provide buyers the possibility to get their a reimbursement or put it in one other unregulated airport car parking scheme.
The companies couldn’t honour their guarantees and 4 of these concerned collapsed into administration in July. Several others – comparable to Park First – are nonetheless working and at the moment are going through authorized motion.
James Daley of shopper group Fairer Finance mentioned: ‘If the FCA shouldn’t be there to guard customers then what’s it there for?’
Firms must be regulated by the FCA to run so-called ‘collective funding schemes’ the place clients’ financial savings are pooled after which invested.
But Park First was not authorised to run such a scheme. The FCA is in search of an injunction towards the defendants – Whittaker and fellow director John Slater – to cease them working comparable schemes in future.
Park First nonetheless advertises car parking funding schemes at Gatwick, Luton and Glasgow airports. There isn’t any suggestion that these schemes are unlawful.
Whittaker, who lives in a £1.9million residence in Burnley, can also be being investigated by officers over one other alleged rip-off.
A High Court case was introduced in April by the Government’s Insolvency Service over an unregulated £206million ‘storage pod’ scheme established by one other of his corporations, Store First.
Around 6,600 buyers – once more many of them pensioners – have been persuaded to put money into storage models and promised excessive returns from renting them out, which by no means materialised.
The court docket heard savers have been lured into investing their cash by ‘deceptive data and testimonials’.
The Government pushed for Store First and associated companies to be wound as much as shield buyers. It additionally referred to as for Whittaker to be barred as an organization director.
A spokesman for Park First mentioned: ‘Park First doesn’t settle for that the parking schemes that it operates have been unlawful collective funding schemes.’