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

Media Stories: 05/01/2007 - EQUI Inquiry asks for extension to July 2007

Equitable inquiry asks for extra time

SIMON BAIN January 5th, 2007

The European Parliament's committee of inquiry into the collapse of Equitable Life has asked for a three-month extension.
If granted by the president of the parliament, the extra time would mean the influential report from Brussels would appear after publication of the eagerly-awaited report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham.

Importantly for the MEPs, it would give them the opportunity to read Abraham's politically-charged verdict before finalising their own.

The committee, set up in response to a petition by the Equitable Members Action Group (EMAG) two years ago, now aims to publish its final report in time to table it to the Parliament before the summer break.

It said yesterday: "The amount of evidence being analysed, together with the complexity of the issues, mean that more time is needed." The committee, one of only a handful of such inquiry vehicles set up by the EU in recent years, has already been granted one three-month extension to April.

Abraham had been expected to report to parliament last month, some 14 months after her first target publication date and almost two-and-a-half years since she was charged with investigating whether the government was guilty of maladministration over Equitable.

But in mid-October it was revealed that the Treasury had that month submitted, out of the blue, a huge cache of new documents relating to 2001, a critical period just after the insurer's near-meltdown in 2000, on which evidence was never submitted to previous inquiries by the Financial Services Authority and Lord Penrose.

EMAG said it believed the documents would provide significant ammunition in the inquiry. But it also suggested that the delay was politically convenient, and might prevent the European Parliament's committee from having access to the report.
Last March, the ombudsman published a highly critical report on wound-up company pension schemes, finding the government guilty of maladministration and urging it to pay compensation.
Abraham, in a memo to the Public Administration Committee in June, said the refusal of ministers to accept her recommendations, and those in several other reports, were "undermining the ombudsman's constitutional position".

Simon Bain in The Held 5th January, 2007