Financial Conduct Authority  

FCA urges discretion from mini-bond clients

FCA urges discretion from mini-bond clients

The financial regulator is asking clients of a collapsed mini-bond provider not to share any paperwork relating to their investments online or with each other. 

Clients of London Capital & Finance, which fell into administration at the end of January putting the funds of more than 14,000 bondholders at risk, are waiting on the Financial Conduct Authority to complete its investigation of the company and the regulator's handling of its collapse. 

In an update on its website yesterday (August 15) the FCA said bondholders could help its investigation by keeping safe any paperwork, including letters, emails and financial records, relating to their investment with LCF. 

The regulator urged clients not to share the information "with other investors or publish it on online platforms". 

The FCA said: "As part of our investigation, we will assess the information that you and other investors send us.

"This will help us build a more detailed and comprehensive picture of what happened. We may contact you directly if we need to clarify the information you have given or ask further questions."

The regulator said it aimed to post an update on its website every few months but warned investigations of this "size and complexity" can take a long time.

In April it was announced an independent investigation would review the FCA's handling of the company's supervision and failure, with Dame Elizabeth Gloster heading up the process. 

Shortly before LCF's collapse the Financial Conduct Authority ordered the company to stop marketing its fixed-rate investment bonds and Isa products and the provider had its assets frozen by the regulator.

The FCA alleged the Tunbridge Wells-based company had signed clients up to fixed-rate Isas promising 8 per cent interest, with investors' capital then invested into mini-bonds used to issue loans to small businesses.

The independent investigation is expected to consider whether the existing regulatory system adequately protects retail investors in mini-bonds from unacceptable levels of harm and the FCA's supervision of London Capital & Finance.

The bondholders are also waiting for a decision from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme as to whether they are entitled to compensation, after the lifeboat scheme found evidence of misleading advice given to clients but warned the process would take time to conclude. 

Most recently the FSCS confirmed it had been contacted by more than 5,000 clients of LCF, with the company's marketing agent Surge Financial Ltd agreeing to provide further information to aid the investigation.

rachel.mortimer@ft.com 

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