Financial Conduct Authority 

FCA action leads to restructuring of investment scheme

FCA action leads to restructuring of investment scheme

A company offering car parking investment schemes has agreed to stop operating and promoting these in their original form after intervention by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Park First Limited, and its related entities, promoted and operated airport car parking investment schemes but was not authorised by the FCA and was not permitted to provide regulated financial services.

In a statement the FCA said: "We took the view that these were collective investment schemes, which can be a high-risk investment.

"Only authorised firms and individuals can operate or promote them."

After the FCA's intervention, Park First agreed to stop operating and promoting the original schemes and are now offering investors in the Glasgow and Gatwick car parks the choice of getting their initial investment back or moving into a new lifetime leaseback scheme.

The lifetime leaseback pays a rental income for the full period, providing a fixed yield of 2 per cent a year but this is not a collective investment scheme and therefore is not regulated by the FCA.

The FCA added: "Given the circumstances of this case, we will not take further action at this time, but reserve the right to do so if it appears action is appropriate.

"We do not endorse the lifetime leaseback or any other Park First investment. We express no view about the merits or level of risk of such investments. We have not verified the factual accuracy of the promotional material for the lifetime leaseback scheme.

"Existing investors in Park First who are asked to make a decision about their Park First investment should seek such independent financial and/or legal advice to assist them in making their decision as they consider necessary."

Park First's lawyers said the company had been in discussion with the FCA about parking schemes at Glasgow and Gatwick airports.

Park First had been advised by a QC prior to setting up the schemes that they were not collective investment schemes and had never accepted the FCA's view, but the company voluntarily agreed to restructure them such that the FCA was satisfied they did not constitute collective investment schemes.

The lawyers added that the restructured Lifetime Lease schemes continue to be airport car park investment schemes at Glasgow and Gatwick airports.

This article has been revised to make clear that the car park investment schemes continue to operate as restructured, Lifetime Leaseback, schemes.  It has been updated with some information provided by Park First's lawyers.

damian.fantato@ft.com

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