Regulation  

Gina Miller calls for independent Woodford investigation

Gina Miller calls for independent Woodford investigation

Campaigner Gina Miller has called on MPs to launch an independent investigation into the collapse of the Woodford Equity Income Fund amid claims investors are "losing faith" in the regulator's supervision of the industry. 

In open letter to the Treasury Committee today (February 16) Miller and her husband Alan Miller, leaders of the The True and Fair Campaign, said it was "high time" the Woodford fallout was investigated, in a similar fashion to the recently published London Capital & Finance and Connaught probes.  

It came as Neil Woodford announced his return to the market over the weekend, which will see him take up the role of chief investment officer at the newly-launched Woodford Capital Management Partners. 

However, for now this does not involve the creation of a new fund, or managing money on behalf of UK advised clients. 

The Financial Conduct Authority's own investigation into the Woodford debacle is still ongoing — but the regulator is not probing its own role in the fallout, telling FTAdviser in 2019 it would not commission an independent review into its actions despite industry figures accusing it of having been "asleep at the wheel".

In today's letter Miller said: "It is high time there was an independent investigation into the Woodford scandal, along the lines of the recent LC&F and Connaught investigations, so that important lessons can be learned – including by the FCA itself – to avoid the habitual and depressing repetition of such scandals.

"Too often the perpetrators of financial wrongdoing seem to slip off the hook, many to start up new lucrative operations while it is ordinary savers who suffer the brunt of this wrongdoing."

Miller said it was "clear that UK investors and savers are losing faith in the FCA’s supervision of financial services firms".

She added: "At a time when public policymakers should be encouraging the public to save, it is simply unacceptable that major investigations such as the one into Woodford are being delayed in this way."

Woodford and the FCA did not respond to a request for comment.

Woodford is listed as chief investment officer of the newly-launched Woodford Capital Management Partners, which will be based in Buckinghamshire and Jersey. The manager's business partner at Woodford Investment Management, Craig Newman, is also involved in the new company. 

The FCA has found itself in hot water as a result of two independent investigations into its conduct in recent months.

The damning report by Dame Elizabeth Gloster into the regulator's handling of the London Capital & Finance collapse found it had failed to properly regulate the now collapsed company and warned its handling of information from third parties regarding the business was "wholly deficient".

Likewise, a report led by Raj Parker into the FCA's role in the collapse of the scandal-embroiled Connaught fund found its regulation of entities and individuals was "not appropriate or effective" and it could have done more to protect investors. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com