Unfairpak can advise that the meeting that was set up by Yvonne Fovargue MP with Vince Cable did take place today.
Unfairpak were represented as were FVC, Yvonne Fovargue MP, Sir Ian McCartney, Ian Murray MP, Katy Clark MP and Jessica Morden MP were all in attendance along with various members of the Department of Business and Innovation.
Dr Cable did have an Agenda he wished to follow and detailed same but it turned out said Agenda was not adhered to. The Insolvency Service explained that they had not waited for a report from the Insolvency Practitioner but had in fact commissioned a “fact finding” enquiry into the collapse of the group. Their enquiries gave “cause for concern” regarding the directors’ “conduct” and they accordingly decided to take against against the directors. The advised that 2 directors took undertakings while the other 9 chose to defend same.
Counsel had given the Insolvency Service a 50% chance of being successful. However, as witnesses began to give evidence and started contradicting themselves, it was evident that the case had to be dismissed. Unfairpak have to point out that the directors have been found guilty of NOTHING and have had the case against them dismissed.
The Insolvency Service advised that a “Lesson’s Learned” will be commissioned by themselves for use in future cases.
Talk turned to “what to do next” and the subject of regulation of the pre-payment industry came up.
Sir Ian McCartney was very vocal regarding the success of the Christmas Pre-payment Association and Suzy Hall was able to advise that the CPA have been in talks with the Financial Services Compensation Authority. Suzy advised that the CPA are close to announcing shortly that the CPA and FSCA have agreed terms whereby if a member company had funds invested in a bank and that bank were to go to the wall, the FSCA would step in. The general consensus was that supermarkets with Christmas saving schemes should become members of the CPA. However, FVC pointed out that this would “not happen” as the CPA is “self-regulatory”.
Unfairpak and Yvonne Fovargue MP will press the supermarkets again and ask if they will re consider. Suzy did advise Katy Clark and Jessica Morden after the meeting that a solicitor acting on behalf of a supermarket had called the CPA telephone line regarding how to go about joining the CPA. Suzy advised Jessica and Katy that the solicitor would not name which supermarket she was calling on behalf of.
Yvonne Fovargue mentioned many pre-payment schemes which are not regulated and stated that a “big sign” stating “your savings are not protected” should be above such schemes. Yvonne has a long history of working with Citizens Advice Bureau and Unfairpak felt it wrong that she did not get to speak longer given that it was her who secured the meeting.
FVC called for an enquiry into the administration/liquidation of Farepak Food & Gifts Limited. Mr Cable indicated that this would not be happening but that the Insolvency Industry as a whole would be looked at.
For the record, again, after the meeting, Suzy spoke to both Jessica and Katy and explained that the Liquidation Committee of Farepak Food & Gifts Limited were very “vocal” and when said Liquidation Committee were first presented fees to approve, we asked for a 10% discount and were given same. Suzy also advised Katy and Jessica that BDO had waived their fee in respect of dealing with the Farepak Response Fund and in dealing with the £8 million Mr Cable shamed Lloyds into donating. Both Jessica and Katy took on board Suzy’s comments that perhaps had it been another liquidator acting, this may not have happened. Suzy also clarified with Jessica and Katy that the evidence presented to the Liquidation Committee proved that the liquidators should purse third parties.
During the meeting FVC indicated that BDO had “misled” the public into thinking they were getting 50% back in compensation. Suzy attempted to explain that the figures were set out in BDO’s press release and with all the media work she [Suzy] had done, regarding the compensation, she had set out clearly that customers received 17.5 pence in the £ from the Farepak Response Fund in 2006 with a further 32 pence in the £ coming from the liquidators. Suzy did point out during the meeting that it was “thanks to Mr Cable” that Lloyds had been “shamed” into paying a further £8 million.
Unfairpak have to state that since the announcement by BDO we have had in excess of 150 members join our site. We have answered in excess of 200 emails and have lost count of the number of telephone calls that we have received on the information line. Not one single person has indicated to Unfairpak that they thought they were receiving 50% back. The queries have been in relation to claims, changes of address, change of names, sadly customers stating that they did not receive the 17.5 pence in £ from their Agents prior to Christmas 2006 and again, sadly, deaths.
Unfairpak have confirmed directly with BDO and have ascertained that a “mirrored image” of the Farepak database with all Agents names and addresses was sent to the Farepak Response Fund. Unfairpak can further confirm that all vouchers were sent out registered post to Agents by Park Group Plc.
Accordingly, Unfairpak completely refute FVC’s allegation that BDO are “misleading” customers. We also completely refute FVC’s allegation that Suzy, herself, has “misled” customers. As we have had contacts by various means in excess of 400 customers who eithere received the 17.5 pence or did not but who were all very clear that it was 32 pence in the £ that they would be receiving now.
The meeting was concluded and Unfairpak can confirm that Suzy was asked to “stay behind” by Vince Cable before the meeting actually started. Suzy had sensitive details to provide in respect of HBOS which she did not feel should be shared with anyone else. A full account of these details were taken and Unfairpak can confirm that we and Yvonne Fovargue have been advised to write to George Moody MP and Andrew Tyrie MP to call for everyone at HBOS in 2006 involved with Farepak, to be called and brought before the Treasury Select Committee.
Unfairpak can also confirm that in respect of our involvement with the Crown Currency Exchange Action Group, Suzy did pass on documentation to Mr Cable and asked him to investigate Barclay’s role in this debacle. We shall continue to work with the Crown Currency Action Group and hopefully aid them in gaining a satisfactory result.
After the meeting Graham Hiscott from the Daily Mirror interviewed FVC and their respective MPs and Suzy Hall and Yvonne Fovargue in respect of the Daily Mirror’s “Guard Our Cash” Campaign. Hopefully with the help of the Daily Mirror, we can flag up regulations which are lacking on behalf of customers.
Any questions, please feel free to comment below.