PracticeAccounting FirmsFirms face negligence claims over split trusts

Firms face negligence claims over split trusts

Firms auditing trouble-hit split capital trusts have been put on notice they could be sued for negligence in a bid to recover investors' losses.

Link: MPs target ex-Aberdeen man in splits inquiry

The threat came from Stephen Alexander, of London solicitors Class Law, who claimed to represent 1,000 of those who have lost millions of pounds in the collapse of some of the ‘splits’.

Alexander told the Commons Treasury Committee on Tuesday that his firm would pursue anybody against whom there was a case of negligence and failure to carry out a legal duty and named auditors as well as the directors of trust managers, independent financial advisers and brokers.

And he threatened to take on the Financial Services Authority – immune from negligence suits – on grounds of ‘misfeasance’ for ‘recklessly’ failing to act after receiving a warning he claimed they received from the Guernsey regulator.

The FSA has taken particular interest in Aberdeen Asset Management which has been reviewed by the regulator as part of a wide investigation of split tursts. KPMG is Aberdeen’s auditor.

Alexander was himself under attack from FSA managing director John Tiner, who complained: ‘It is all very well for ambulance-chasing lawyers to come to these occasions and make allegations.’

Tiner told MPs on the committee that he had no knowledge of the FSA receiving a warning that split trusts faced a ‘systemic risk’ of a collapse but admitted there may have been a gap in regulation since the trusts were not themselves subject to regulation only their prospectuses and publicity material.

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