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

Documents: 11/01/2002 - Question to Vanni Treves by Paul Braithwaite (EMAG) at the Equitable Life's compromise meeting
11 January 2002 - Question to Vanni Treves by Paul Braithwaite (EMAG) at the Equitable Life's compromise meeting:

First, I offer a sincere thank you to our non-executive board. I endorse that their fees be enhanced to the proposed £25k, at page 72 of the Scheme circular. However:

I'd like to censure the costs incurred in the Scheme Proposal:

Last weekend we saw many full tabloid page ads for The Equitable under a rather vacuous headline: "So much at stake. So little time", which must have cost, to my experienced eye, a couple of hundred thousand pounds.

This week I've heard about couriers being despatched club-class to deliver, wait, and return with signed voting forms to 130 international members ALL around the world. If so, that cost can't have been less than another couple of hundred thousands. DHL could have done it last week for about £30 each.

Similarly, Burson-Marsteller, your appointed PR "crisis management team", that on Tuesday's Today programme were described as having - and I quote - " an illustrious record in representing the most reprehensible regimes and companies going." - Is being paid a rumoured £6m more.

Did "the purple prose" draft compromise proposal and roadshows really need to be so fancy and flashy? The same, here today?

I dread to think what Lovells bill for last year will be. No doubt they are the best the City of London has to offer but did there really need to be, for example four barristers and half a dozen lawyers in the court for us on November 26th?

Charles Thomson joined Equitable less than a year ago as our Appointed Actuary. He joined a closed Society, came in with his eyes open and he has just £1,013 at risk in our With Profits fund.

Our members are aghast at your proposal to make up his package for year 2001 up to a breathtaking total of £650,000, by voting him an extra 100% of his salary, £275,000, as a bonus to be paid on March 1st. This information is in a footnote on the same page 72, in the middle of 300 pages explaining to us why WE should all be making yet another huge personal sacrifice.

This, in a year when policyholders have suffered repeated body-blows, devastating personal losses and anxiety - seemingly without end.

This, in a year that the Society has lost probably 150,000, or 30%, of its members and £9bn, or one third of its value. If my numbers are wrong, publish the right ones, PLEASE.

This, in a year when, regrettably, the service to policyholders from Aylesbury, despite no doubt heroic efforts by individuals, has fallen short every day of the year of what is acceptable. "The Virtual Society" isn't working! In short, an appalling year and an appalling performance from a Society that is transparently still traumatised and failing to cope. And frankly, I have to hold our full time chief executive responsible.

I ask the non-executive directors to reconsider this element of the proposal. And, under our dire current circumstances, as a further gesture to the Society, Mr Chairman, I invite you to waive your extra £250,000 too, since you do have three other jobs.

We still have a VERY long way to go before we're out of the quicksand.

Paul Braithwaite

Chairman of EMAG

11th January, 2001