The winding up of the three Green Pension schemes continues to progress very slowly.
The principal stumbling block remains the redemption of the Ecoquest Plc Debentures. These were due to mature on 30 November 2017 but unfortunately remain outstanding.
Ecoquest Plc continue to assure us that they hold sufficient assets to redeem the debentures in due course. This is supported by their audited financial statements. Unfortunately, they still need to be able to exchange their various assets for cash before they can begin redeeming their debentures in earnest. The eventual timing of this appears to be dependant on a number of factors, not the least the conclusion of some complex litigation.
One suggestion made during discussions was that we might create a ‘breathing space’ for the company by agreeing to in effect ‘roll over’ the existing bonds into a new 3-year bond in anticipation that matters could nevertheless be resolved well before that new maturity date (and possibly quite soon). We felt that such a ‘roll over’ was not in the interests of our members and have therefore declined such a transaction.
Another subject of our discussions concerns the role of ‘security trustee’ for the Debentures. Hitherto, this has been occupied by Edwards Securities Ltd. They in turn have been slowly winding down their business such that it has been agreed that we will now take this role. This will at least finally give us the option of enforcing the charges over Ecoquest’s assets. Enforcing that security would not however, as matters stand, make Ecoquest’s any easier to realise at their carrying value; it is important that we take no action that would ultimately imperil the value of the monies we eventually recover.
The current status of the Ecoquest Plc Debentures is that they are 'in default'. We will continue to request their redemption to enable the scheme windups to proceed and for monies to be returned to members via transfer values reflecting the stated value of members’ pension pots.
In the meantime, we would urge all members to make claims with the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (‘FSCS’), if you have not already done so, in respect of the financial advice you were given to transfer your existing pension pots to these schemes. As we have stated previously, these schemes were not mainstream pension products and we are incredulous that financial adviser firms told members to transfer to them.
From liaising with the FSCS, we are aware of thirty (30) members who have so far received pay-outs following our interaction with them. We believe there are other members who have also received such payouts.
All the work we have conducted to date is that we believe FSCS now understand the nature of these claims and the extent of peoples’ losses. We are therefore of the view that members do not require any form of ‘claims company’ to assist them.
Claims can be started with the FSCS directly online: [Click Here]
You can refer them to our memo to FSCS dated 30 November 2017: [ [Click Here]
This was supplied to them with 3,000 pages of supporting evidence, including statements in respect of all scheme members.
If however you feel you require the assistance of a claims lawyer, we still recommend Mr Alasdair Sampson of Financial Services Redress (UK) Ltd. We provided details of his services to all GFI-affected members [click here] and would recommend him for other members as well. He is a qualified solicitor. He operates on a 'no win, no fee' basis charging 15% + VAT = 18% of any redress won. His legal knowledge and his fees compare very favourably to general ‘claims management’ companies.
Our view however remains that members should not need> to pay for any such support, and this is FSCS’s view as well.
If the matter remains unclear, assistance and advice can usually be obtained in the first instance via Citizens Advice.