herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

My mum lost her savings and I want to see justice

A VICTIM of the Custom House Capital collapse is determined to have her day in court and make someone accountable for her elderly mother's savings being eroded.

Ingrid Baugh's 85-year-old mother from Shankill, Co Dublin, is one of 1,500 victims of the scheme but is determined to fight back.

"My mother sold her home in 2006 and decided to move into a retirement complex with sheltered accommodation. She wanted to put the proceeds from the sale of her house into something secure in case her health deteriorated down the line and she couldn't live independently. It was very prudent planning," said Ms Baugh.



Reputable

Her widowed mother transferred the large sum of money to a wealth management firm Custom House Capital (CHC) run by Harry Cassidy, which managed funds and pensions.

"The people running it were reputable and it was regulated by the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank so it was very safe," she explained.

"We stressed we wanted minimum risk level and we just wanted to withdraw the money if my mother needed it at any given moment."

In June 2011 CHC announced that it agreed to "a transfer of (non-property investor) clients to Appian Asset Management".

A spokesman from Appian Asset Management said: "In the course of arranging an orderly transfer of certain investment assets from Custom House Capital to Appian Asset Management in the summer of 2011, Appian became concerned about a number of matters.

"Appian immediately brought these concerns to the attention of the Central Bank and terminated all arrangements with Custom House Capital. The Central Bank acknowledged that Appian acted properly and professionally by bringing these matters to its attention." It was found that money was taken from some CHC client accounts without permission and "used to cover shortfalls in (other) clients' property investments".

On July 15, 2011 the High Court appointed inspectors to CHC to conduct an investigation into the affairs of this firm.

Then Harry Cassidy, who lives in Ballinteer, Dublin, resigned as CEO and as a director of the firm. In October 2011, a liquidator was appointed to the investment firm CHC after Central Bank inspectors found "systemic and deliberate misuse of more than €66.4m of client funds".



Consent

According to the affidavit of a Senior Regulator of the Central Bank filed in the High Court: "In February 2009, information was received by the Central Bank from an individual to the effect that some clients' monies were being invested in an investment framework described as the Mezzanine Bond Fund and that this was being done without the clients' consent."

A 200-page report has recently been produced by the Central Bank inspectors which outlines what happened to €66.4m of clients' monies.

Ingrid is one of 150 clients who have put down an initial contribution of €605 each to Lavelle Coleman Solicitors in Dublin to represent her mother's interests but she is not holding out much hope of getting her mother's money back.

Financial regulator Matthew Elderfield replied to a letter from Ingrid where he acknowledged how her mother's investment was a cause for concern.

"You rightly question how a financial institution that is regulated by the Central Bank could operate in the manner that is now known of Custom House Capital. This is a matter of concern to me also," he said.

"My parents were always so careful and cautious with money. Prudence stuck with them all their lives," said Ingrid.

Ingrid wants the Directors of CHC ultimately to account for their actions. CHC is presently being investigated by both the Garda Fraud Squad and the Director of Corporate Enforcement. The Investor Compensation Fund has also advertised that certain clients of CHC may be entitled to compensation.

On March 12, the Official Liquidator of CHC Limited will provide a further update to the Examiners Court in relation to the work carried out on the reconciliation of client holdings.

hnews@herald.ie

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