Wednesday 18 July 2018

Compensation delay for investors in collapsed firm Custom House Capital

Harry Cassidy
Harry Cassidy
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

It will be at least another year-and-a-half before most of those who lost money in disgraced Custom House Capital will get compensation.

The broker was found to have misappropriated €66.5m of investors' funds when it collapsed six years ago.

Last December the High Court handed down the longest disqualification in the history of Irish company law to former Custom House Capital chief executive Harry Cassidy. He was banned from acting as a company director for 14 years.

Just 567 of the 2,000 investors who lost money have so far received compensation, the Investor Compensation Company (ICC) said in its annual report.

The ICC was set up to compensate eligible investors when an investment firm authorised here goes bust.

It pays 90pc of the amount lost, subject to a maximum of €20,000, to each investor.

It is funded through annual levies it collects from investment firms and intermediaries to build up reserves to pay compensation, and is not funded by the state.

Investor Compensation Company Limited (ICCL) chairman Jim Bardon decried the fact that progress certifying claims for Custom House Capital (CHC) has continued to be slow.

But he added that the broker's liquidator Kieran Wallace has now provided a timetable for the completion of the outstanding work in the liquidation, with most of this now expected to be concluded within the next 18 months.

"I can assure the CHC investors involved that the company remains committed to seeking the acceleration of the claims process and that on receipt of certifications, the ICCL will arrange for payment of compensation promptly," Mr Bardon said.

Just €387,000 has been paid out on 20 claims in the past year, taking the total so far that has been paid to €7.4m.

The delay has been blamed on the fact that there was a large "misappropriation and unauthorised diversion" by CHC into a number of property funds.

It will be at least the middle of 2019 before the money is recovered from these funds and distributed.

"However, a timeline for the recovery of all misappropriated monies remains uncertain due to the complexities involved including legal and other impediments, such as the sale of some properties into which these monies had been diverted," the Investor Compensation Company said.

The Investor Compensation Company said it was pressing the liquidator to speed up the certification of claims, which are estimated to total close to €20m.

A number of recommendations have been made to the Department of Finance to speed up the process of compensating investors in future.

The compensation company pulled in levies of €6.4m in the year bringing accumulated reserves to €52.8m.

This includes €5m from large investment firms - such as banks and stockbrokers - and €1.4m from smaller investment firms including insurance brokers, retail intermediaries and accountants.

The ICC also said that it had received no claims from members of Rush Credit Union, after the appointment of joint liquidators last year.

The credit union is subject to a fraud probe by gardaí.

Irish Independent

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