The FCA has issued a warning over Asset Life plc. The warning begins:
We believe this firm has been providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation. Find out why to be especially wary of dealing with this unauthorised firm and how to protect yourself from scammers.
Almost all firms and individuals offering, promoting or selling financial services or products in the UK have to be authorised by us.
However, some firms act without our authorisation and some knowingly run investment scams.
This firm is not authorised by us and is targeting people in the UK. Based upon information we hold, we believe it is carrying on regulated activities which require authorisation.
Asset Life plc was incorporated in July 2014 and, according to its July 2015 accounts, issued £1 million of bonds in that year. According to its most recent accounts, for July 2017, it had just under £5.2 million in investor debentures at that time (now almost two years ago).
In November 2015 an investor asked the moneysavingexpert.com forum whether they should invest in Asset Life plc, receiving a universally negative response. In 2017 the thread was deleted following legal complaints by Asset Life plc. A second thread, started shortly after, remains up at time of writing.
Bond Review reviewed Asset Life plc in January 2018. Our review noted that, despite Asset Life plc referring to its bonds as a “deposit”, the use of language such as “The major advantage is that you know upfront what return you will receive over the 3 year period”, and Asset Life plc claiming that its bonds were covered by an insurance company in Anjouan, Asset Life’s bonds were an inherently high-risk investment.
Why the FCA has seen fit to issue a warning into Asset Life plc’s activities, nearly five years after it began issuing investments, is as yet not known. Asset Life’s unregulated bonds are, ludicrously, not subject to FCA regulation.
According to the Times yesterday, the FCA is seeking to have Asset Life’s website shut down. Within the last few days, Asset Life plc’s website has been changed to state that its bonds are closed to new investment. (Google’s cache shows that its bonds were being still being advertised by the website on 12 May 2019.)
Asset Life plc has been overdue with its July 2018 accounts since 31 January 2019. Unusually, Companies House does not display the customary red text to draw attention to overdue accounts at present.
Starting in October 2018, there have been allegations that Asset Life has failed to repay interest and capital on its bonds on time.
Asset Life, London Capital and Finance and Anglo Wealth
Asset Life plc’s Chairman, Martin Binks, was a director of collapsed minibond firm London Capital & Finance from October 2015 to August 2016.
Since May 2014 Martin Binks has been a director of another former minibond firm, Anglo Wealth Limited. In December 2018 Anglo Wealth Limited was described as an “elegantly packaged scam” by a Southwark Crown Court judge, who sentenced two other Anglo Wealth directors, Terrence Mitchell and Andrew Meikle to suspended prison sentences and disqualification as directors.
Binks has not been accused of any wrongdoing in relation to his ongoing role at Anglo Wealth.
According to a firm of barristers who assisted the CPS, Anglo Wealth
accepted very substantial deposits from individuals but failed to make proper investments. Instead, the bulk of the funds were dissipated on supporting the defendants’ lifestyles.
Unusually, investors for a prosecution of this type, the investors were re-paid in full (albeit only after the pair knew they faced criminal investigation).
Where Mitchell, Meikle and Anglo Wealth got the money from to repay investors (having dissipated the bulk of their initial investments on their lifestyles) is not known.