[Albert Owen in the Chair] — Arch Cru Compensation Scheme

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 19th October 2011.

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Photo of Tom Greatrex Tom Greatrex Shadow Minister (Energy) 9:30 am, 19th October 2011

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. I want to come on to the inadequacy of the payment deal—it is not a compensation deal—on the table at present, because there are serious questions to ask about that as well.

If what I have set out was Capita’s reputation among some in the industry, it is perhaps not surprising that Capita appears not to have known about the activity of the sub-funds investing in the very high-risk activity via the Guernsey cells; that Capita appears not to have been aware of the illiquidity in the fund by 2008; and that Capita appears not to have provided a proper sign-off for the accounts. I say “appear” because we do not know for certain the detail of the failings, because the FSA, in correspondence that it has copied to Members of Parliament, says that it is unable to provide details of its investigations.

Suffice it to say that those independent financial advisers who trusted the Capita brand worked on the basis of the CF Arch Cru marketing material, which Capita would have had responsibility for signing off and copies of which I have with me. It includes material headed “Going Well” from November 2008, by which time the FSA had, we know, started looking into Arch Cru. There is also a weekly update from 9 March 2009—four days before suspension of the fund. In approving tones, it boasts of cumulative decline year to year of 2.6% compared with double digit falls in most major traditional public asset houses. It says that all its UK funds retain a top five rank in their category. Those statements were issued to financial advisers just four days before the fund was suspended.

In addition to that type of material, the chief executive of Capita Finance Managers, Chris Addenbrooke, in Investment Adviser in September 2008, said:

“We’ve got the credibility to take on the ACD”— authorised corporate director—

“role. Our clients see that as attractive.”

Given that material and comments such as that, there is no doubt that people thought that they were investing in something that was very different from what it turned out to be. It is apparent that at the very least there were serious shortcomings in the role of Capita as the ACD.

Secondly, there is the role of the FSA. Earlier this week, I spent some time with representatives of the FSA, discussing Arch Cru, and I am grateful for their time and their engagement in seeking to answer some of my questions, but serious questions remain for the FSA to answer. It was statutorily responsible for regulating Capita Financial Managers. Why did it not know or not appear to know what was happening with Arch Cru? I also spoke to people who had previously worked for the FSA. They said that the ARROW—advanced, risk-responsive operating framework—visit was not until late 2008 and that was not atypical given the risk matrix, which would have meant that the likely ARROW visits would have taken place only every 18 months approximately. I understand and accept that this matter can be complex.