South Wales Group

Letter to Charles Thomson

Last Updated: Monday, October 07, 2002 03:03 PM

Letter sent to Charles Thomson from Harry White

Mr Charles Thomson CEO Equitable Life Assurance Society City Place House  55 Basinghall Street  London EC2V 5DR

05 October 2002

Dear Mr Thomson

In your interview with Ruth Sutherland reported In the Daily Mail of 3rd October, referring to the Society, you admit "any recovery will be very slow. It is hard to imagine it will be less than a number of years - 10 years plus". This is not an encouraging forecast particularly for older members either annuitants or those with policy maturities within the next few years. This comment has a rational or technical flavour and does not describe the emotional effect on members of the fund closure to new business and its uncertain future.

An upbeat note in the interview was your reference to the legal actions you are taking against the former directors and former auditors. This is obviously to seek restitution for some of the Societies losses that you consider are attributable to their respective failures of sound management and financial audit respectively. You logic must be that, if successful, these actions should improve the financial health of the w/p fund

Your action to recover losses will be applauded by members since compensation is the only way to achieve an improved recovery timescale of the w/p fund than that forecast in your interview. The quicker restitution is obtained the better,

However, it is glaringly incongruent that you are not simultaneously urging the Parliamentary Ombudsman to fulfil his duty and role in extending his investigation into the successive government regulators from 1988 when Gars ceased to the date of closure of the Society to new business. I would remind you that the Society, as a legal entity, can complain through its local M P as can an individual member ; also no legal costs are involved. If the P M decrees that regulation failed then the government is likely to be the source of greatest compensation.

Thousands of members have complained to the Parliamentary Ombudsman to extend the date span of his Investigation and not to hide behind Penrose - so far without success. It is now nearly 12mths since he started his limited investigation of the FSA and still no report. Since you manage the Society for the members it is time you supported their actions and approached the Parliamentary Ombudsman. This would be an entirely rational act on your part and emotionally would give distressed members a greatly needed morale boost.

This letter expresses the wishes of a group of South Wales Equitable victims who meet together to discuss matters and who, like the majority of members, are all convinced that in the Equitable affair there was a serious failure of member protection by the government regulators.

We see no reason, whatsoever, for the P M delaying an extension of his investigation into members legitimate complaints back to 1988, using Penrose as an excuse for delay. The terms of reference and purpose of Penrose are entirely different to the role and duty of the Ombudsman and victims should not have to wait for ever to receive a speedy investigation into their just complaints. Even without benefit of Penrose there are a number of legal opinions in the public domain, many of which have been obtained at the expense of the dwindling with profits fund, as well as an authoritative academic opinion that would justify the P M mounting an immediate investigation back to 1988 without further excuse.

We all feel that it is high time that you, as a matter of duty , including the Chairman and all members of the Board, supported members in obtaining their statutory rights viz. An investigation by the Parliamentary Ombudsman of members ( as individuals and as a Society ) reasonably founded complaints of serial regulatory failure.

Yours sincerely

H M White

Copies Mr Vanni Treves

           Mr Ron Bullen