Victims Of Equitable Life Disaster deserve full compensation

Conservatives demand that higher standards of investor protection must now be enforced

Brussels, 4 May 2007 — The British Government must ensure that victims of the Equitable Life scandal are fully compensated says Sir Robert Atkins MEP, deputy leader of the Conservatives in the European Parliament. His call comes as the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the company’s collapse votes on the adoption of its findings next Tuesday May 9th.

Established on behalf of the one million policyholders who have seen prospects of compensation ebb away, the committee heard evidence from policyholders, European Commission officials, Equitable Life Assurance Society managers and financial regulators from across the EU.

Aided by incisive questioning from Sir Robert and other Conservative MEPs, the blame for the failings can largely be apportioned to company executives, although regulators were lamentably deficient in supervising, investigating and regulating the company’s operation. Lord Neill, a former chairman of the Committee of Standards in Public Life, stated that the British Financial Ombudsman Service failed in its duty to give unbiased support to victims of the affair.

Sir Robert, who was instrumental in persuading the European Parliament to establish the Committee of Inquiry, said: “I believe that due to its failure to adequately protect policy holders in accordance with EU legislation, the UK Government is obliged to devise an appropriate scheme to ensure full compensation for victims of the debacle.

“Having categorically proven that the UK and EU financial redress systems are unsatisfactory and lack the requisite level of security that one would expect from the Single Market, the EU institutions and British Government must urgently combine forces to ensure that higher standards of investor protection and security are legally enforced. This is imperative if people are to be expected to save judiciously for their retirements.

ENDS

A full copy of the report can be accessed at:http://www.europarl.europa.eu/comparl/tempcom/equi/draftreporten.pdf

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