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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:01 am on 19th October 2011.

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Photo of Alun Cairns Alun Cairns Conservative, Vale of Glamorgan 10:01 am, 19th October 2011

I am grateful for that valid point. Clearly, IFAs cannot be excluded from all responsibility, but we need to bear in mind the context in which they are working. If they are looking at the strategy and pricing of a fund classified as cautious managed, we need to recognise the context in which that advice is being given. Therefore, the failure of the FSA to set the right context in which an IFA can make recommendations is fundamental to the issue.

There is another conflict. The FSA regulates the authorised corporate directors and Capita acts as the authorised corporate director for more than 300 firms. Taking action against Capita could create difficulties, leading to panic in the marketplace. The FSA has powers under section 166 of the Financial Service and Markets Act 2000 to instigate an independent investigation into organisations that take such responsibilities. Will the Minister tell us whether any such action has been taken by the FSA?

The Arch Cru affair is a minefield of accusation and counter-claim. My hon. Friend Guy Opperman referred to the Serious Fraud Office. I was alarmed to discover that two of the three main directors or partners who established the Arch Cru funds—Robin Farrel1 and Robert Addison—are still operating, albeit under a new name of Arch Global. Allegations have been made to the Serious Fraud Office about how Arch funds were invested in a property company with common directors. Student accommodation was bought on the open market at one price, only to be sold to the Arch investors shortly afterwards for an inflated sum. I have no knowledge of whether or not those points are true, but they clearly need to be investigated.

As for compensation issues, the auditors and the Guernsey Financial Services Commission certainly need to be pursued by some authority, be it the FSA, the Minister or other parties.

Finally, in view of the FSA’s actions and the associated conflicts, I am troubled that section 404 of the 2000 Act can bind the financial services ombudsman to the FSA’s judgment on the level of compensation. The FSA has made its view of the 70% figure quite obvious in its statement. Therefore, even if investors seek to make a claim involving the financial services ombudsman, or if they follow other routes, the FSA can limit the compensation to 70% at a later stage.