The report by Lord Penrose, released this afternoon, found ‘a culture of manipulation and concealment’ by its former management.
‘It was the society’s own action which ultimately precipitated its own crisis,’ the report said.
Treasury financial secretary Ruth Kelly told the Commons the report into Equitable Life found that the assurer had ‘allowed a bonus policy to develop that led to the society’s financial weakening – a policy left unchecked by its own board’.
Altogether about 800,000 people lost money, after Equitable made financial promises to a large group of policyholders that it could not keep.
The Serious Fraud Office, which has been asked to look into the Equitable debacle, said it had received a copy of Lord Penrose’s report, but said ‘no decision has been made to commence an investigation’.
‘The SFO is still considering the issues raised and in particular whether the adoption of a differential terminal bonus policy was communicated to policyholders and prospective policyholders,’ it said in a statement.
Equitable was forced to close to new business in December 2000.
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