Well well…. the Park First updates are coming thick and fast. Today there has been yet another Park First update from the Administrator. At the 11th hour Finbarr O’Connell of Administrator firm Smith & Williamson finally admits to Park First investors that the £33m pot “is held by solicitors for the benefit of investors” and that it is “subject to the agreement of the FCA”.
He confirms for the very first time that the £33m is not automatically released if investors vote for his proposal i.e the CVA. The Administrators have to gain the approval of the FCA in order to have that money released. That is exactly the same as a liquidator would have to do should creditors support a liquidation. Finally we get something truthful from Mr O’Connell and it shows that a CVA DOES NOT automatically result in the release of the £33m.
Some might say Mr O’Connell intentionally left it to the last minute to inform investors because he had been frightening them into supporting the CVA proposal and it may now be too late for them to switch to the liquidation proposal. We think Mr O’Connell may have been persuaded by the authorities to put out this update to clear up the false and misleading impression he had created in his countless previous statements.
Whatever the reason, it raises serious concerns about the honesty and trustworthiness of the Administrators. It is shameful how the Administrators have misled creditors in an attempt to push through their proposal on behalf of the directors. A proposal which results in creditors having to accept the write off of £115m of their investment money without any explanation at all over where that money has gone.
It must have pained Mr O’Connell to have to tell investors that neither the CVA nor the liquidation has any automatic right to the £33m. However, he then goes on to use a range of scare tactics telling investors that if they don’t vote for the CVA then the two Park First entities, which were forced by the FCA to pay the £33m into the pot in the first place, would block the release of funds to a liquidator. Pull the other one Mr O’Connell. These entities did not donate that money out of the kindness of their hearts. They paid it because they knew the FCA allegation, that Park First was an unregulated collective investment scheme promoted in breach of FSMA regulations and therefore unlawful, was sound and likely to succeed if tested in court. These entities are very unlikely to want to anger both the FCA and investors by blocking any funds which have been deposited “for the benefit of investors”. As much as Mr O’Connell would like investors to believe that the money deposited by his clients and their associated business entities is still theirs and they can decide how it is used, the reality is that it was a reluctant payment made because the potential repercussions of refusing to pay it would be much more severe.
Investors may wonder why there is such a rush by the Administrators to push this CVA proposal through when, as the comical figure in the Pension Life video says, “I haven’t yet finished my analysis of how the money has been spent so I can’t give any information out on it”. Surely an Administrator ought to complete his analysis BEFORE forcing investors to commit to a course of action which writes off that money !
This CVA is a deliberate rush-job because the longer this goes on the more likely it is that information will leak out about the conduct of the directors and the whereabouts of the missing money. That would really upset the company directors who want an end to any chance of an investigation and who appointed Mr O’Connell and his colleagues to protect their interests.
In an ideal world investors would take control of these companies, negotiate the release of the money from the FCA, commission their own in-depth investigation using those funds and push for a prosecution of any offenders and culpable third parties with a view to recovering funds from them. Unfortunately we are not in an ideal world. These things take time to organise and there is no time. So, investors are faced with a choice between supporting a biased and punitive CVA proposal which is highly protective of the company directors, or supporting a liquidation, the likely purpose of which is to sell assets, investigate the conduct of directors and trace the missing money with the aim of recovering any unlawful or excessive payments, and potentially taking action against culpable third parties. On both sides of the equation there are large firms which will charge substantial fees. It is regrettable but that will be the same whatever the outcome.
There has still not been one word from the Administrator about where the £115m has gone and why he has stated in his report that he regards this money as “unrecoverable”. In order to take that view he must know where it went and why it is unrecoverable. That is an incredible amount of money to just misplace.
As we have said before, if it were our money we would not let the company directors get away with misappropriating our investment funds and not giving any explanation for it. We would not support this CVA proposal. If it is a straight choice between CVA or liquidation, which it appears to be, we would be voting for liquidation.
If the latest update from Finnbar O’Connell has made you realise that you were misled by his earlier reports and you would now like to support a liquidation please read our previous article here where you will find the necessary forms.
We will delve into this a bit more tomorrow when we have a special report just for any children out there. Yes children, tomorrow is Cartoon Day where we will be reviewing Bugs Bunny, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the Pension-Life CVA Support video….. but remember, don’t take these cartoons seriously. They’re not real, just enjoyable fantasies.