EMAG

The independent action group for current and ex Equitable Life policyholders, funded by contributions.

Equitable Members Action Group

Equitable Members Action Group Limited, a company limited by guarantee, number 5471535 registered in the UK

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Press Releases: 20/11/2002 - EMAG Calls on the FSA to force equitable to provide adequate information to its members.

20th November 2002 - EMAG Press Release

THE CHAIRMAN OF EMAG (THE EQUITABLE MEMBERS' ACTION GROUP) CALLS ON THE FSA TO CONVERT FINE WORDS INTO ACTION AND FORCE THE EQUITABLE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE INFORMATION TO ITS MEMBERS

In two letters to John Tiner, a managing director of the Financial Services Agency, Alex Henney, chairman of EMAG cited nine cases to show that Equitable Life's chairman Vanni Treves and chief executive Charles Thomson have run a calculated policy of "spin and obfuscation" to keep members in the dark. The cases include:-.

  • The compromise scheme documents omitted key information which should properly have been provided to members (for example, the ramifications of guaranteed interest returns - GIR)
  • Both the Annual Report and Accounts and the Interim Accounts fail to disclose information which the Financial Services Agency recommends should be provided to policyholders. When challenged, they provided misleading reasons
  • They provided neither quantification nor background for the huge reduction in policy values by 16% on 16 July 2001, nor for subsequent reductions. These refusals are in direct contravention to the requirement under article 65 of the Society's Memorandum and Articles of Association about the Society's financial circumstances. They produced specious reasons for their refusals
  • The Society supressed its solvency return in April 2002 until after AGM voting and made misleading statements about the procedure for obtaining the return
  • They have consistently refused to publish the number of voting members throughout the last 18 months
  • They refuse to provide for members leaving the fund the basis of their fund value. When he asked for this information Henney was told "We do not provide details of how we arrive at surrender values. It is not a service we offer"

Henney wrote to John Tiner "This is outrageous…I hope you will agree that it is long overdue that the FSA does something to try to resolve a modicum of trust between the Society and its battered members, rather than just publish fine words. Please would you help us to get adequate information from Equitable?"

For further information, ring Alex Henney on 020 7284 4217.

Notes for editor:

Chairman Vanni Treves wrote, on his appointment, that "I will communicate openly. This is our Society and members are entitled to know everything about how it is run unless open disclosure would be commercially damaging…I look forward to an atmosphere of trust and transparency between the policyholders and our Society". The Board has claimed it "is dedicated to a policy of openness in communication with policyholders".