TTF Blog: 04 May 2021

Police reveal City regulator ignored 45 reports from them on Blackmore Bond scandal

Paul Carlier emailed the FCA in 2017 with concerns about a 'boiler room' next door; did the FCA relay anything to police?

by Alex Varley-Winter, TTF’s Head of Media Relations & Investigative Reporting

MPs from across parties have joined our calls for a full investigation of the Blackmore Bond scandal, after the Telegraph revealed there were 71 fraud allegations to police, about the since-collapsed £47M minibond scheme. And that the police notified the Financial Conduct Authority a whopping 45 times – but it appears the regulator completely failed to act.

MPs have accused the FCA of having been not just asleep but ‘catatonic’ at the wheel. In 2019 Blackmore Bond collapsed, then owing investors an estimated £46M.

According to Freedom of Information responses from the City of London Police, they made the 45 warnings about Blackmore to the Financial Conduct Authority, but information did not flow the other way. According to the FOI responses, none of the fraud claims police received about the scheme had been routed via the FCA.

The “Boiler Room” next door

TTF member Paul Carlier has helped to draw journalists’  and MPs’ attention to this case. Next door to his office in 2017 was unregulated introducer firm Amyma. It had sounded to Carlier like they were cold-calling people, seemingly coaching them to invest in Blackmore Bond.

In a nutshell Boiler Room,” Carlier wrote in an email at the time, to the Financial Conduct Authority’s enforcement team. 

You can see Carlier explaining his concerns fully at a recent TTF Symposium on the scandal, streamed here.

It may be significant, in light of Carlier’s whistleblowing, that of the 71 reports of alleged fraud now revealed by the City of London Police, none of them came from the FCA. Why weren’t Carlier’s reports also shared with police by the regulator?

Online marketing: links to LCF mini-bond scandal

By a seeming coincidence, Blackmore Bond used the same marketing agency, Surge, as was used by a more infamous seller of “mini-bonds” London Capital and Finance (LCF). LCF also collapsed owing investors £236M. It prompted a damning judge-led report into the FCA’s handling of that case and promises of Treasury compensation.

While there are marked similarities here to the Blackmore Bond scandal, there are elements of proven inaction on Blackmore Bond may make the case even more damning for the FCA. Telegraph reporter Adam Williams liaised with TTF members and MPs and revealed that the FCA routinely ignored not only calls from financial services experts, but also these dozens of police reports about Blackmore Bond when the scheme was still operating.

Mini-bond and other scandals of the last decade, or more, are casting a long shadow over the City watchdog, and its then-chief, now Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey. This follows a campaign by TTF members and MPs we assist calling for Fairer Financial Services.

Growing calls to action

Our March Symposium on Blackmore Bond prompted our founder Andy Agathangelou to immediately call for an investigation, including writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the issues raised.

What the Telegraph has since uncovered, adds brimstone to MPs’ and TTF‘s calls for a public inquiry into the scandal, and a review of whether the FCA is “fit for purpose” at all.

Meanwhile, has the sleeping watchdog lifted an ear? It has published a discussion paper on high risk investments, open to comments by July 1st.

Press Timeline of relevant articles:

 
24 Apr, 2021 City watchdog ignores 45 warnings as investors lose £47m in bond scandal by Adam Williams for the Telegraph
 
09 Apr 2021PM urged to ‘clean up’ financial services by Amy Austin for FT Adviser
 
 
 
 
15 Mar 2021Andrew Bailey under pressure over link to RBS scandal by Edward Thicknesse in City A.M.
 
12 Mar 2021Beware the City’s push for a new regulatory watchdog by Helen Thomas for the FT
 
 
20 Feb 2021£1.5bn Germany property scandal leaves British savers facing financial ruin by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph
 
17 Feb 2021Where next as government bonds lose power of diversification? by Adam Lewis for Portfolio Adviser
 
17 Feb 2021Neil Woodford under fire from Jersey regulator by Lucy Burton for the Telegraph
 
 

06 Feb 2021Fraud victims suffer enough – guarantee will help innocent overcome shame of scamming by Daniel Jones for the Sun

05 Feb 2021Leader: The FCA’s leaders need to step up when things go wrong by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing

04 Feb 2021Pension scam victims say regulators should have saved them from from losing life savings, by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph

02 Feb 2021SMCR rules come back to bite FCA in mini-bond probe ‘rules around senior managers being held responsible for their actions have come back to bite the regulator’, by Daniela Esnerova for MoneyMarketing

02 Feb 2021Regulation must deliver transparency and protection for Buy Now Pay Later consumers by Alex Marsh for City A.M.

02 Feb 2021 Bank chief Bailey ‘should be censured’ for failings by James Hurley for the Times

02 Feb 2021FCA criticised for trying to omit names from LCF report by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser

02 Feb 2021Poll: Should FCA executives bear personal responsibility for the London Capital and Finance fallout? by MoneyMarketing

01 Feb 2021 – Investment funds flouting new transparency rules by Patrick Hosking for the Times

01 Feb 2021MPs launch full inquiry into London Capital & Finance scandal with chairman declaring it will be “thorough and clear” by Jim Armitage for the Evening Standard

29 Jan 2021The Financial Services Bill doesn’t provide the tough regulation we need by Professor Prem Sikka for Left Foot Forward

25 Jan 2021FCA urges clients of collapsed British Steel firm to consider claims by Sonia Rach for MoneyMarketing

21 Jan 2021MPs call on FCA to ‘hold bad advisers to account’ by Laura Purkess for CityWire

21 Jan 2021FCA told it lacks vision to tackle consumer issues by Amy Austin for FT Adviser

18 Jan 2021Former Hong Kong lawmaker rejects HSBC’s explanation over frozen accounts by Reuters

18 Jan 2021What we learned from a bumper FCA data dump by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing

18 Jan 2021Wall Street fears bubble from Biden stimulus as retail investing booms by Katherine Greifeld, Claire Ballentine and Vildana Hajric for Independent.ie

15 Jan 2021 –  Mortgage prisoners accuse Treasury of working against them as wider FCA remit blocked by Owain Thomas for Mortgage Solutions

14 Jan 2021MP Vows To Keep Pushing Tougher Economic Crime Law by Richard Crump for Law360

12 Jan 2021 – Bitcoin: be prepared to lose all your money, FCA warns consumers by Kalyeena Makortoff  for the Guardian

07 Jan 2021 Regulators and police say Covid lockdowns have driven up online pension scams and demand regulation of Google, Facebook and others by Jim Armitage for the Evening Standard

06 Jan 2021 Why UK savers could fall through the cracks in Brexit regulation from the FCA by Jim Armitage for the Evening Standard

04 Jan 2021Bank of England fails to publish officials’ expenses by Alex Ralph for the Times

18 Dec 2020Executives at Financial Conduct Authority to lose bonuses over London Capital & Finance scandal by Ben Martin for the Times – Bosses at the Financial Conduct Authority will lose £205,000 in bonuses after the highly critical report on the regulator’s handling of the London Capital & Finance scandal

17 Dec 2020The fallout from the financial regulator’s shocking failure on LC&F is not over yet by Nils Pratley for the Guardian

17 Dec 2020FCA did not ‘effectively supervise’ collapsed mini-bond issuer LCF, says report by Matthew Vincent for the Financial Times  “Members of the Transparency Task Force, a lobby group pushing for regulatory reform, pointed out that in his own representations to the Gloster review, Mr Bailey included a demand “to delete references to ‘responsibility’ resting with specific identified/identifiable individuals”.

17 Dec 2020Former Financial Conduct Authority boss Bailey apologises over handling of mini-bond scandal by Ben Martin for the Times

16 Dec 2020EU cannot be ‘captured’ by City of London, warns financial services chief by Sam Fleming and Jim Brunsden for the Financial Times

09 Nov 2020Spike in personal pension cases at ombudsman by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser

09 Nov 2020 – Regulator: Climate risk ‘looms even larger’ than pandemic by Avery Ellfeldt for ClimateWire (U.S.)

08 Nov 2020How financial services watchdog has reacted to UK consumer worries in Covid by Hilary Osborne for Guardian

08 Nov 2020Five predictions for banking regulation in a Biden presidency by Jon Hill for Law 360

05 Nov 2020Martin Lewis warns of ‘epidemic of scams’ after ICU nurse loses £8,000 by Scott Edwards for Wales Online

05 Nov 2020FCA bans adviser trio jailed for sex offences by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser

03 Nov 2020 – ‘We haven’t received a penny’: Business interruption insurance row intensifies as owners fear payout delays, by Elizabeth Anderson for iNews

03 Nov 2020Aviva’s shares fiasco highlights weakness of the city watchdog by Patrick Hosking for the Times

02 Nov 2020Banks have done little to help the country through the pandemic, so why is the government rewarding them? by Simon Youel for the Independent

29 Oct 2020 – Calls to sack Malta financial regulator CEO by Cristian Angeloni for International Adviser

27 Oct 2020U.S. group urges Biden to use financial regulation to control climate change by Valerie Volcovici for Reuters

27 Oct 2020 ‘Impact startups’ continue to raise funding during the pandemic despite difficulties faced by the wider tech startup sector by Sebastian Klovig Skelton for Computer Weekly

26 Oct 2020 – Why there must be thorough probe of claims made by Bank Signature Forgery Campaign – Greg Wright  for the Yorkshire Post

26 Oct 2020 –  Critics demand action over ‘flawed’ British Banking Resolution Service by James Hurley for the Times

23 Oct 2020Bank Signature Forgery (film) by Nicholas Wilson for Corruption UK

22 Oct 2020 – UK fraud agency suffers string of senior departures by Kate Beioley for the FT

22 Oct 2020Work harder to find fraud, watchdog tells auditors by James Hurley for the Times

17 Oct 2020 – MPs pursue claims bank signatures were faked on court papers by Rupert Jones for the Guardian

16 Oct 2020 We need universal digital ad transparency now by Laura Edelson, Erika Franklin Fowler and Jason Chuang for TechCrunch

15 Oct 2020 – Rising COVID-19 Rates Send NatWest Misselling Trial To Video by Bonnie Eslinger for Law 360

15 Oct 2020 – MPs Push Agencies to Act on Forged Signature Claims by Law360

13 Oct 2020 –  Mark Carney says banks should link executive pay to Paris climate goals by Kalyeena Makortoff for the Guardian

12 Oct 2020 ‘It is time to reboot the competition regime for the modern, digital age’ by David Wighton, The Times

12 Oct 2020 Gina Miller blasts FCA complaints scheme changes ‘unfair, immoral and illegal’ by Cristian Angeloni for Portfolio Adviser

12 Oct 2020MPs call for input on Pension Schemes Bill by James Phillips for Professional Pensions

10 Oct 2020 Give pension trustees power to fight scammers, say MPs by Kenza Bryan for the Times

08 Oct 2020  – Freedom to transfer pensions should be stripped where scams are suspected, industry experts urge by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph

08 Oct 2020 – Planned pensions shake-up passes first Commons hurdle by Law 360

08 Oct 2020 – WPC chairman says transfer rules ‘must be changed’ by Amy Austin for FT Adviser

07 Oct 2020 – Tech giants share blame for pension scams, MPs told by Law 360

06 Oct 2020 – FCA opens 85 cases over pension scam concerns by Amy Austin for FT Adviser

 
28 Sep 2020 – PM urged to show leadership in fight against scams by Amy Austin for FT Adviser
 
28 Sep 2020The 100 Whistleblowers who changed Wall Street by Stephen M. Kohn and Mary Jane Wilmoth for National Law Review
 
28 Sep 2020TTF calls for govt leadership on pension scams following meeting with PM by Sophie Smith for Pensions Age
 
 
26 Sep 2020 – £60m revamp for Action Fraud hotline that failed victims by Martin Beckford for The Sunday Times
 
25 Sep 2020 – FCA labels Google’s scam advert efforts ‘deeply frustrating’ by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser
 
23 Sep 2020 – Bank Forgery Campaign (video) by Andy Verity for BBC
 
 
21 Sep 2020 Flood of complaints expected over Covid-19 UK business loans, by Kalyeena Makortoff for the Guardian
 
 
16 Sep 2020 – Regulators Accused of Ignoring Scam Warnings by Jack Gray for Pensions Age
 
16 Sep 2020Tougher clampdown on pension scams is needed, MPs told by Vicky Shaw for Belfast Telegraph
 
 
11 Sep 2020 – ‘Delay changes to Watchdog Complaints Scheme’ by James Hurley for The Times
 
 
03 Sep 2020Regulators have not yet got to grips with how to close down crooks, warns TTF  by Hope William-Smith for Professional Pensions
 

24 Aug 2020Financial Conduct Authority rushes to minimise compensation for its failings by James Hurley for The Times

04 Aug 2020Have your say: Will the WPC’s inquiry into the impact of pension freedoms be too overshadowed by Covid-19 impacts? by Professional Pensions

03 Aug 2020 – ‘“I’m 39, have lost my job and am in debt – can I unlock my £18k pension?” … DON’T do it!’‘ by Steve Webb for This is Money

01 Aug 2020‘I lost £2.3m after I was conned into transferring my pension’ by Jessica Beard for the Telegraph

28 Jul 2020MPs launch inquiry into pension scams  by Tom Kelly for Daily MailUK Pension Scams Under Scrutiny After 2015 Relaxation in Rules by Reuters & MPs launch wide-ranging pension scams probe by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing

24 Jul 2020 – US business groups seek steps to stamp out online fraud by Leonie Barrie for Just Style

22 Jul 2020Pension scams increase amid lockdown by Sophie Smith for Pensions Age & Missed Opportunity to Use Victims in Scam Work by Amy Austin for FT Adviser

21 Jul 2020  Londongrad Calling: Is Europe’s Laundromat the ‘New Normal’? by Mark Conrad

20 Jul 2020 Campaigners Aim to Create Pension Scam Database by Michael Klimes & Government eyes unauthorised firms by Justin Cash for MoneyMarketing

17 Jul 2020 – Year ‘dominated’ by FCA shortcomings as 205 complaints made,  by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser

29 Jun 2020 – MPs Pushed to Launch Pension Scam Inquiry by Amy Austin for FT Adviser & Lawmakers Urged To Open Inquiry Into Pension Scams by Martin Croucher for Law 360

11 Jun 2020 Blackmore minibond investors get just £5m back by Ben Martin for the Times

11 May 2020 – FCA urged to build public trust in independent reviews by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser

30 Apr 2020 – FCA was warned three years ago about mini-bond firm Blackmore Bond, which collapsed with £45m of savers’ money by Ben Chapman for the Independent

15 Apr 2020 – Met police lose two thirds of finance officers as fraud soars by Ben Ellery for the Times

25 Mar 2020 – Care Home Wants NatWest Docs in Misselling Fight by Law360

20 Mar 2020 – Connaught review delayed as Covid-19 concerns loom by Rachel Mortimer in FT Adviser

07 Jan 2020It’s time to keep your pensions promise, Boris! The PM pledged to help these victims of a huge scam FOUR years ago – and they’re still waiting by Tom Kelly for the Daily Mail.

29 Dec 2019‘Lambs to the slaughter – tens of thousands of savers have lost up to £10billion in rogue pensions schemes sanctioned by the government… and now the taxman is threatening VICTIMS with fines’, and ‘Making millions from other people’s misery’: A Government adviser, call centre chief and pension scheme director are among those who stand accused of involvement in pension schemes that exploited loophole in the law by Tom Kelly for the Daily Mail

03 Sep 2019
Chris Gordon Developer who ‘lost £1m’ takes legal action against Ulster Bank by Alan Erwin for the Belfast Telegraph

30 Aug 2019 – MPs back businessman on hunger strike at Clydesdale Bank by Kalyeena Makortoff for the Guardian

15 Aug 2019Victims hit by Connaught’s collapse blast City watchdog for ‘whitewashing’ independent review by Lucy White for Daily Mail

05 Aug 2019Plunder in paradise: The ‘adviser’ behind a Costa scam that has cost expat pensioners £25MILLION – and led one to attempt suicide by Laura Shannon for Mail on Sunday

05 Jul 2019 Government-owned bank ‘forging signatures’ in repossession cases by Andy Verity for BBC

18 Jun 2019“I came home to find my house had been stolen!” by Angela Ellis-Jones for the Daily Mail

20 Jun 2019 – FCA orders review of its handling of Connaught collapse by Rachel Mortimer for FT Adviser

13 Jun 2019 – Investigation into disgraced RBS small business unit branded a ‘whitewash’ by MPs by Ben Chapman for the Independent

07 Jun 2019Guernsey Stock Exchange disputes FCA account over Woodford by David Thorpe in FT Adviser

29 Mar 2019MPs call for inquiry into alleged forgery of signatures by Andy Verity for BBC

15 Feb 2017 – RBS accused of fraud & forgery by customers and ex-employee by Andrew Hosken for The World Tonight BBC Radio 4

22 Dec 2016Solicitors suspended for roles in collapsed Brazilian investment scheme by Nick Hilborne for Legal Futures

10 Oct 2016 The Dash For Cash: Leaked Files Reveal RBS Systematically Crushed British Businesses For Profit by Heidi Blake, Jane Bradley, Tom Warren & Richard Holmes for Buzzfeed News