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Wednesday 17 October 2018

Beaufort Securities collapse causes £800m of client assets to be frozen

Administrators PwC have slashed the firm’s workforce from 120 to 40 and closed offices in Bristol and Colwyn Bay.

St Mary's Axe (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
St Mary's Axe (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Ben Woods, Press Association Chief City Correspondent

The collapse of Beaufort Securities (BSL) has sparked the loss of 80 jobs and caused nearly £800 million of client assets to be frozen.

Administrators PwC have slashed the firm’s workforce from 120 to 40 and closed offices in Bristol and Colwyn Bay as it tackles the group’s demise.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought in the professional services firm on Friday when BSL and sister firm Beaufort Asset Clearing Services (BACSL) were both placed in insolvency following a financial assessment by the watchdog.

The FCA is also helping the US Department of Justice with an investigation into Beaufort Securities over allegations the group was involved in a securities fraud and money laundering scheme.

Nigel Rackham, joint administrator of BSL and joint special administrator of BACSL, said PwC was dealing with a “very significant and complicated insolvency”, which could see “many months” pass before returns were made to clients.

He said: “Since our appointment, the priority has been safeguarding the key client data and critical systems used to run the firms’ business as well as clients’ cash and assets.

“We have now identified and ringfenced £50 million in segregated client money accounts alongside freezing close to £800 million in client assets.

“In respect of the client assets there are a number of open positions and transactions which need to be resolved and concluded. This may impact the total once a final reconciliation takes place.”

The stockbrokers, which had a head office at St Mary Axe in the City of London, provided services to investors and corporate institutions, with 14,000 clients investing in products ranging from ISAs to pensions.

While PwC does not expect any client returns before the middle of April, it is pencilling in a “substantial return” after costs.

Mr Rackham said: “These include carrying out an assessment of the accuracy of the firms’ books and records, devising new processes to move the holdings of all clients in an orderly and appropriate way, and preparing cost estimates for these activities.”

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