Media Reporting Farepak “victims” to get 50% back – FACTS

There are many media reports circulating with headlines such as “Farepak customers will get half their money back”; “Farepak victims to receive 50 p for every £ saved”; “Farepak customers to receive half of money owed” etcetera.

Unfairpak would like to state that we have been contacted by customers in excess of 400 by various means.  They have been quite clear on what is being reported.  They know they are to receive a further 32 pence in the £.  Some of these customers have acknowledged they received the 17.5 pence in the £ prior to Christmas 2006 and some are stating they did not receive same. 

What Unfairpak can confirm is the fact that the liquidators sent a “mirrored image” of the Farepak database to the Farepak Response Fund.  The vouchers were then sent out to Agents on the database to distribute to their customers.  These vouchers were sent registered delivery by Park Group Plc. 

We [liquidators and Unfairpak] are looking into possible reasons why some people may have not received same and hope to have an answer early next week which we will report on.

Unfairpak concede that some of the headlines are “misleading” in the media but as aforesaid, over 400 customers who have contacted us ARE clear it is 32 pence they are to receive.

When our National Campaign Co-ordinator spoke to the Press Association, this is what she said:-

Suzy Hall, national co-ordinator for campaign group Unfairpak, hailed today’s announcement as a victory.

She said: “To think we started in 2006 with zero. To finally be able to pay out an extra 32p is a fantastic result. Never in my wildest imagination did I think we would get back 50p in the pound. Unfairpak believe we have won.”

Suzy has NEVER stated to any newspaper that customers are to RECEIVE 50 pence back in the £.  She has clearly given a breakdown of the 50 pence in the £ and every newspaper that we have seen have reported the 17.5 pence in the £ will bring the total payout to 50 pence in the £.  Being pedantic, the figure is actually 49.5 pence in £ although we have obviously not used half pennies for years now.

 

Unfairpak Meeting Vince Cable 12 July 2012

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.

 

BREAKING NEWS Farepak to be Wound Up

It has been a long and sometimes difficult 5 1/2, almost 6 years, however, Unfairpak are pleased to announce that Farepak is finally to be wound up. 

We would like to thank BDO, the liquidators, their legal team, the forensic accoutants, the whole Team on Unfairpak, Ian McCartney, Anne Snelgrove and all other MPs involved in the battle and also the Media for allowing us to keep this story running.

Please see Press Release below.

 

Date 10 July 2012  
Subject Farepak Joint Liquidators announce dividend payment

 

Farepak Joint Liquidators announce dividend payment

 

The Joint Liquidators of Farepak have today announced that they will be making dividend payments to Farepak’s creditors, including customers and agents, at the end of next month.  In addition, the Joint Liquidators will at the same time distribute the £8million ex-gratia payment to customers and agents made by Lloyds Banking Group.   The ex-gratia payment will be issued by the Joint Liquidators at no additional cost.  The dividend payment – approved by the Liquidation Committee – marks the end of the liquidation of Farepak for creditors.

 

The Joint Liquidators have been working throughout the liquidation to recover as much money as possible for creditors as directed by the Liquidation Committee, which was set up by court order to represent all those who lost money as a result of the collapse of Farepak. This work has required the Joint Liquidators to investigate a number of possible claims and engage in legal proceedings with third parties.  The Joint Liquidators have now finished their investigations and recovered as much money as possible for creditors and are in a position to pay a dividend. 

 

Farepak collapsed leaving no money to pay a dividend to its creditors.   The Joint Liquidators are now able to confirm that a payment will be made to customers and agents of approximately 32p in the £.  This sum includes the dividend payment of approximately 13p in the £ secured by the Joint Liquidators and the £8million ex-gratia payment made by Lloyds Banking Group.  The Joint Liquidators will aim to make payments to Farepak’s 114,000 creditors at the end of August. 

 

When added to the 17.5p in the £ given to all customers and agents by the Farepak Response Fund charity, set up by the Department for Trade and Industry in 2006, the dividend payment means that customers and agents of Farepak will have received a total of approximately 50p in the £.

 

Creditors who have changed their address since submitting their original claim but not notified the Claims Management Team should register their change of address by sending details of their name, their agent’s number, the amount of their claim, their old address, their new address and their signature to Claims Management Team, Farepak Food & Gifts Limited – In Liquidation, PO Box 3404, Swindon, SN2 9EQ within two weeks.  The Claims Management Team is not able to deal with changes of address over the telephone or via email for security reasons. 

 

– Ends –

 

Note to editors BDO LLP, a UK limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales under number OC305127, is a member of BDO International Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, and forms part of the international BDO network of independent member firms. A list of members’ names is open to inspection at our registered office, 55 Baker Street, London W1U 7EU.  BDO LLP is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority to conduct investment business.

 

The combined fee income of all the BDO Member Firms, including the members of their exclusive alliances, was €4.06 billion in 2011. The global network provides business advisory services in 135 countries, with almost 48,800 people working out of 1,118 offices, worldwide.

 

BDO is the brand name for the BDO International network and for each of the BDO Member Firms.

 

BDO Northern Ireland, a partnership formed in and under the laws of Northern Ireland, is licensed to operate within the international BDO network of independent member firms.

 

Contacts Laura Gainsford and Rebecca Harper at Blue Rubicon on behalf of BDO LLP

 

 

Tel: 0207 260 2700

Fax: 0207 260 2701

Email: bdo@bluerubicon.com

http://www.bdo.uk.com/news.html

Unfairpak’s Response to £8 million from Lloyds

It would have cost roughly £3 to £5 million for HBOS to ‘save’ Farepak but HBOS wanted their money back and they got it, leaving 116,439 customers with claims totalling £37 million out of pocket and facing a miserable Christmas in 2006.

Unfairpak held a demonstration outside HBOS’s HQ in Edinburgh on 11 December 2006 with a large media presence.  We had our fantastic laminated ‘UNFAIRPAK’, banner and Colin Fox, former MSP, came up with the wonderful slogan ‘Hand Back Our Savings’!

We also had a petition with thousands of signatures and many emails from MSP’s stating that they would not be attending the Champagne Reception that HBOS were holding on that very cold December night.

Unfairpak knew then that HBOS had our savings and we wanted them back.  The bank, on the other hand, decided, very kindly, to give us Shane O’Riordain with an ‘open’ letter to Unfairpak which our National Campaign Co-ordinator read to the demonstrators.

Shane very quickly became known and called as ‘Shame on Shane’ and it was truly ‘shame on Shane’ as he was the one sent out to spin HBOS’s poor, pathetic attempt at discrediting Unfairpak and in fact Suzy herself.  HBOS were “very disappointed” that Suzy stated that the £2 million donation, being the single largest donation, to the Farepak Response Fund (if we heard that once, we heard it one hundred times from Shame on Shane) “disgusted her”.  HBOS went onto state that they “broke the golden rule of banking” as banks hardly ever made a charitable donation to companies that had collapsed and they had provided finance to same.  However, that is exactly what it was, a charitable, guilty donation and now Lloyds wish to ‘top it up’ by £8 million to the £10 million suggested in court by Mr Justice Peter Smith.

Lloyds are now ‘responsible’ for HBOS’s greed due to the fact that it is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lloyds Banking Group.  However, don’t feel sorry for Lloyds, as they were later, along with other banks, to be bailed out by the taxpayer and owes said taxpayer around £20 billion – YES £20 BILLION!

Unfairpak firmly believe that Lloyds should actually be paying £10,251,000.  We reach this figure as this is the amount that was swept up from Farepak to HBOS from suspension of EHR’s shares on 23 August 2006 until the Group’s collapse.  If you look at Woolworths as a comparison, when they suspended their shares they put the firm into administration, EHR, on the other hand, continued to trade.  This is the date that Unfairpak feel we can say categorically that EHR should have been put into administration but was not.

Now some people will read this and think “£10,251,000, are you crazy……”?  What we have to remember is that HBOS did NOT act illegally.  They did however act wholly immorally especially with the Park II rescue plan, which, as Unfairpak stated at the beginning of this post, would have cost HBOS £3 to £5 million to ‘save’ Farepak.  HBOS ‘sat on’ Park II for 6 weeks, initially calling it a “neat solution…..” only later to pull the plug completely on the Group.

Suzy Hall along with Yvonne Fovargue and Ian McCartney are meeting with Mr Vince Cable on Thursday 12 July 2012 to discuss “the case”.  Mr Cable has stated today that “My department and Lloyds will work to make sure this money gets to the victims as quickly as possible.”  There are several ways this can be done, the simplest being through BDO.  Now some people are going to get a little tetchy that Unfairpak should even dare mention BDO and money in the same sentence.  What people have to realise is that they have no idea what goes on behind the scenes of an administration/liquidation and Unfairpak appreciate that must be extremely frustrating.  However, BDO are the best equipped to deal with distributing the funds.   BDO actually waived their fee in respect of dealing with the Farepak Response Fund.  Unfairpak are NOT suggesting that BDO would waive a fee dealing with Lloyds but we are pointing out that they have done so before.

To bring this blog to a close, Unfairpak would urge Lloyds to up their offer to £10,251,000 and lastly, we expect and shall demand that ALL senior management of HBOS from 2006 involved with Farepak are brought before the Treasury Select Committee to answer questions on their actions.  They have called our savings “Doris” that comment may prove to be “Deadly” especially when they are fighting a group that completely deserved Scottish Herald Politician Campaign of the Year Award in 2007.

 

 

 

 

Vince Cable’s Statement Lloyds £8 million to Farepak

The Business Secretary Vince Cable has today responded to the Lloyds Banking Group statement on their decision to make an ex-gratia payment of £8 million for Farepak’s former customers. Dr Cable wrote to Lloyds on 28 June asking for their views on the comments made about the bank by Justice Peter Smith. Lloyds Banking Group has today responded.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

 

“The result of the legal proceedings case against the former directors was disappointing but this increased compensation will go some way in helping those who were left considerably out of pocket by Farepak’s collapse. My department and Lloyds will work to make sure this money gets to the victims as quickly as possible. I will be meeting a group of Farepak’s creditors and MPs next week to discuss the case.”

HBOS, FAREPAK AND EHR DIRECTORS

Having only had time to skim read Mr Justice Peter Smith’s statement, we will make the following comments.

Regarding Mr Peter Johnson to be the only person to criticise the Farepak model due to the fact that Park Group Plc ringfence customers’ monies, Park were put in the position of ringfencing customers’ monies due to the collapse of Farepak.  We obviously agree with customers’s monies being ringfenced and the Christmas Pre-payment Association has now traded successfully for almost 6 years.

Regarding what the Directors of EHR/Farepak should have done earlier is basically given the creditors the truth.  The directors advised us of the collapse of Choice but informed us that a new agreement with Grass Roots had been made for Bonusbond vouchers.  Yes, a new agreement had been reached but said agreement required payment up front.  The directors of Farepak must have known they would not have had enough money to pay for the vouchers up front.

Farepak customers were never given a choice over what to do.  We were not told of cashflow problems, we were not told that when Choice collapsed, Farepak would have to pay up front for vouchers and the significance of this fact.  We were not told that EHR’s shares were suspended on 23 August 2006.  If we had been told these very important points, how many of us would have wished our money back?  We suspect practically every single saver and Farepak would have known that also and known that they would never be able to repay us due to the fact HBOS had our money as it was swept up daily from the Farepak account into the EHR account and then directly to HBOS.

Unfairpak still believe to this day that the directors do have questions which require to be answered and we will now not get those answers.  We note Mr Justice Peter Smith has stated that the evidence will be made available for any interested party wishing to read same.  We can confirm that Unfairpak will request said evidence and it does not matter how long it takes us to read same, we will do it and we shall report on it.

Now to matters relating to HBOS.  HBOS is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group.  Accordingly, Unfairpak will now be launching a new campaign and that is to have the money that HBOS took from us, returned.

We note that they are refusing to return any money stating they paid 2 million into the Farepak Response Fund.  This is not good enough! Unfairpak demonstrated, quite correctly, at HBOS in 2006 whilst they sipped champagne inside the HQ in Edinburgh.  We were presented with a letter criticising our campaign and criticising our National Campaign Co-ordinator, Suzy Hall.  This letter can be seen on our forum and also on You Tube you can see Suzy reading out the letter to demonstrators.

Colin Fox, then an MSP was a fantastic ambassador to the cause and came up with the slogan for HBOS of “Hand Back Our Savings”.  That is what we are demanding now.  We want our savings back.  We are, at the present time, ascertaining how much money was swept up to HBOS following suspension of EHR’s shares on 23 August 2006.  Once we have said figure, we shall be demanding same back from Lloyds.

We will fight hard, just as we did in 2006, to get justice for Farepak creditors.  We will not give up this fight until Lloyds repay monies owed morally to Farepak creditors.  HBOS lied and made a mockery of our campaign.  Again, Mr Peter Johnson of Park Group Plc was ‘on the ball’ so far as HBOS was concerned.  He wrote to the Chairman (who we believe to be Andy Hornby) expressing his extreme concern that the rescue package Park II was still sitting with HBOS.  In total it sat with HBOS for 6 weeks.  At first HBOS stated that Park II could be a “neat solution……” yet on 10 October 2006 they rejected said rescue plan and as we all know the entire Group fell into administration.

Unfairpak also wish every single member of ‘higher management’ of HBOS in 2006, investigated by the Treasury Select Committee and made to answer questions on why they rejected every single proposal made to them especially Park II which while they sat on same, millions of pounds were pouring into HBOS’s bank account from the EHR sweep.

We will leave this post as it is just now as we are still awaiting more facts to push our campaign ahead.  Unfairpak won an award for Campaign of the Year in 2007 from the Scottish Herald Politician Awards.  We take that award seriously.  We were honoured to have received same and we shall not continue the work that began in 2006 until we reach a satisfactory conclusion.

 

Collapse of Farepak Directors Trial

Unfortunately I am out of the Country and shall not return until beginning of July.  I heard this news through a barrage of texts and emails which I received upon landing last night.

Unfairpak has always taken the stance since 2006 that HBOS had a case to answer to yet we were constantly fobbed off with “HBOS did NOT bank Farepak, we provided a loan to the Group”.  HBOS even wrote an open letter to the Unfairpak Forum which is on our forum and any member will be happy to point same out to anyone who wishes to read this.

Unfairpak presented a petition to HBOS at the demonstration prior to Christmas 2006 which many MSP’s boycotted due to HBOS’s role in the Farepak debacle.

It became clear very early on that the directors’ defence would hinge upon HBOS and again, sadly, we were right.  We still stand by the fact that the directors “should have known better”.  We still feel there has been a huge miscarriage of justice here.  Directors ought to know how their company is run and with the cashflow problems that Farepak faced, Unfairpak fully and firmly believe that the entire group of European Home Retail should have been put into administration much earlier on in 2006.  They should certainly have been put into administration upon suspension of EHR’s shares in August.  Take for example the Woolworths Group.  Upon suspension of their shares, they called in the administrations.  In Unfairpak’s opinion, Woolworths acted correctly.

For HBOS to refer to our savings as “Doris Money” is absolutely disgusting.  What do they [HBOS] think we are? Financially illiterate, bumbling fools who did not know what we were doing?  Farepak savers were clever, prudent people who saved for Christmas so as not to get into debt.  Referring to our savings as “Doris Money” just adds insult to injury and we are appalled to hear our savings described this way.

Peter Cummings, the “ultimate arbitrator” must answer questions now.  As must Andy Hornby who was CEO at the time of the collapse.  Unfairpak will tweet the open letter which is on You Tube.  Please followers re tweet same and let the UK know what “spin” HBOS gave us.

HBOS are one of the UK banks that were bailed out by the government!  Unfairpak still to this day do not believe that the government should bail out Farepak “victims”.  However, what we do believe now is that HBOS should repay, in full, the 38 million they successfully clawed back through the administration of the European Home Retail Group.

Upon my return, I will be ensuring that Mr Vince Cable and I meet to discuss matters further.  I will also be asking the Treasury Select Committee to look hard at HBOS.

What I would like to end with is this.  Ask yourself a question, if you bank with HBOS.  Do you really wish to put your money in a bank that refers to decent human being’s savings as “Doris Money”.  Do you think they actually care about anyone other than themselves?  Unfairpak would urge you to really think long and hard if you do bank with HBOS as to what your feelings are regarding the utter contempt they have shown for over 123,000 people whilst taking Christmas savings of approximately 38million pounds.  I certainly would not wish to bank with HBOS!

My final words until I get home “HBOS, shame on you”!

Farepak Directors Trial 19 June 2012

Taken from William Rollason and Stevan’s Fowler’s Skeleton Argument is the following:-

 

 

Mr Kelly’s email of 3 October 2006 said, “if Findel messes us around then we may end up going with the management plan. This is fairly unappetising in many respects given it doesn’t de-risk the Bank but it is probably preferable to a lengthy insolvency and workout with all the added risk this brings with it.”

 

Unfairpak can advise that Mr Kelly is from HBOS and was on the stand today.  We have been advised that he was being given a “pounding” by the defence team on “not raising concerns of possible administration with the directors earlier”.

 

Unfairpak believe that the directors defence may hinge on HBOS and the possibility that they led them [directors] to believe there may have been a solvent solution.

Court Details for 20 June 2012 Farepak Directors Trial

    COURT 26

Before MR JUSTICE PETER SMITH

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

At half past 10

GENERAL LIST

Part Heard

584 of 2011 In the matter of European Home Retail plc and in the matter of Farepak Food & Gifts Ltd