FCA warned by police about Blackmore 45 times before bond collapse

Blackmore logo 2019

A Freedom of Information request made by The Telegraph has revealed that the City of London police warned the Financial Conduct Authority 45 times over the activities of Blackmore Bond starting in 2018.

According to a freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by The Telegraph, the City of London Police, which is the national police lead for fraud, first alerted the FCA to events at mini-bond provider Blackmore in 2018, 18 months before it eventually failed.

It subsequently highlighted problems at the company 44 times prior to its demise in April 2020. The majority of those warnings occurred in February and March of that year.

The FCA was first warned about Blackmore in 2017 by independent consultant and whistleblower Paul Carlier. It eventually stopped Blackmore from taking in new money from the UK in April 2019, having been stung into action by the collapse of London Capital and Finance a few months earlier. Blackmore’s subsequent attempts to attract money from overseas went nowhere.

The regulator has claimed that it did not receive any warnings from the City of London Police until February 2020 (when Blackmore Bonds had already collapsed). Why it did not receive the dozens of earlier warnings is unclear as yet.

The City of London Police’s warnings to the FCA followed a total of 71 reports of “alleged fraud” relating to Blackmore, none of which came from the FCA.

The misplaced / ignored warnings raise a number of important questions which go beyond the usual “why didn’t the FCA do anything“::

  • Who made the original reports to City of London Police and why? It’s unlikely to have been Blackmore Bond investors, as in 2018, Blackmore was making all its interest payments on time.
  • The FOI red flags referred to both “Blackmore” and “Blackmore Global”. Blackmore Global is a controversial Isle of Man unregulated investment scheme, run by the same directors as Blackmore Bonds, which, as reported by the BBC, received the pension funds of a number of UK investors. Blackmore Global does not publish audited accounts or performance reports and investors in the fund have struggled to ascertain what their investment is now worth. Did some or all of the 71 fraud reports submitted to City of London Police relate to the Blackmore Global unregulated offshore fund rather than the Blackmore Bonds minibond scheme?
  • What did City of London Police expect the FCA to do? The reports were always going to bounce off the FCA’s “regulatory perimeter” (i.e. institutional culture of ‘not our problem’) and the most likely organisation to make further enquiries into allegations of fraud was either the City of London Police itself or the Serious Fraud Office.
  • Why were none of the concerns reported to the police and the FCA made public until now? When a high risk unregulated scheme is being promoted to the public, the right of investors to be informed trumps the right of the investment scheme not to have its reputation damaged.

Inevitably, an MP (Gavin Newlands, SNP) has called for Blackmore investors to be bailed out by the general public, on the grounds that the FCA failed them in the same way as LCF investors. The Treasury said that a compensation scheme for Blackmore investors is not being planned.

16 thoughts on “FCA warned by police about Blackmore 45 times before bond collapse

  1. Hi,

    I have also asked the FCA and Action Fraud to investigate a company called Future Fuel Renewables, and to this day, this company is still offering unrealistic interest on 3 or 5 year bonds, but as yet nothing has been done.

    I have also been made aware that the City of London police have been notified about the activities of this company, but still no action has been taken.

    Their latest ‘Scam’ is offering a Year Bopnd @ 8.8% per year (laughs), or a 5 Year Bond @ 9.5% per year (ecstatically lauihging). I warn investors not to fall for this ‘Scam’.

    The CEO is Mr. Robert Hart, and the company’s address is: 195 Hercules Road, London, SE1 7LD if this does exist.

    I again warn Investors to be very aware of this company, and do not invest, unless you want to lose your money after 2 years or so.

    Mark

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  2. From a quick look at the current situation I see both FUTUREFUEL RENEWABLES PLC and FUTUREFUEL RENEWABLES II PLC have badly overdue accounts and attempts have been made to strike them off. Certainly one to avoid, though a bit off topic. Maybe one for Brev to have a look at.

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  3. Hi Fraid Knot,

    I agree with you. Their accounts have not been audited since 2019, and although they claim success for 2 previous Bonds (B1 & B2), I think that this is a lie and not to be trusted.

    I have not had any payments since December 2019, and have been ‘Scammed’ out of £12,000 in total.

    As said previously, DO NOT invest in this company. They are scammers.

    One further point. It was reported in 2020 that the company was going into liquidation, Robert Hart told me that himself over the phone, hence NO RETURN of my previous investment.

    I would dearly love either a ‘Class Action’ or the Serious Fraud Sqaud investigation be taken against this company, with the perpetrators jailed. What do you think?.

    Best regards.

    Mark

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  4. We have received every single one of our agreed coupon’s from Future Fuel Renewables Plc, we have never had any problems receiving all our agreed payments.

    Not everyone has been unlucky it seems. They are NOT scammers as claimed above, how can they be when we have received all our agreed coupons from both Bond 1 & Bond 2

    Just our two penneth!.

    Kind Regards

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  5. Hi williamwood0148,

    Yes, FCA is being abolished (White Elephant), I’ll let you know the new Administration in due course.

    Best regards

    Mark

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  6. I know a Blackmore Global investor and in the offering document it states that audited accounts would be published on an annual basis.
    Since no accounts have been made available, surely this is a clear case to demand compensation from the fund Directors and admionistrators.

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  7. If a commitment to publish annual accounts is part of the investor agreement and Blackmore Global hasn’t done so, then that would seem to be grounds to demand the investor’s share of the fund at current values. Arguably you can’t hold investors to the ten year lock in agreement if you haven’t held up your own end. Bearing in mind the publicised difficulties of investors who were missold the fund by third parties in getting their money out before the ten year period was up, you might need to take legal advice.

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  8. Very illuminating article. Are there any honourable companies paying more than 4% per annum? It eems they all hit the rocks sooner or later.

    All individual loans to companies have an inherent risk of 100% loss, no matter how “honourable”.

    A return of 4% per year is not an unrealistic target for a diversified portfolio of mainstream funds without material risk of permanent loss. You should consult an FCA-regulated Independent Financial Adviser rather than looking at ultra-high-risk unregulated loans.

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  9. Maybe one for Brev to have a look at.

    If they’re being promoted to the public then please do get in touch at the contact link above and I’ll be happy to look at their promotions and literature.

    From the outside it looks like their promotional activity has been dead for a while. Their social media accounts went silent a year and a half ago.

    Due to lack of time I generally no longer put companies on my watchlist if I didn’t write a review on them when they were being promoted.

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  10. I know a lot about Blackmore Global as many are already aware.

    Blackmore Global is an unregulated collective (although the “collective” bit was denied by one law firm that threatened litigation – but as usual it fizzled out to nothing) domiciled in the Isle of Man. As such it has no obligation to publish anything.

    I think the section being referred to above is the paragraph on Page 7 of the Offer Document:-

    “The Directors are also responsible to make sure all other requirements are met in relation to the investment in the Company including the UK reporting status, and filing annual reports with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).”

    it says on page 8: “Ormco Plc has been appointed to act as administrator of the Company. The administrator will maintain the Company’s accounting records, calculate the net asset value of each Cell, the overall net asset value of the Company, the net asset value per Cell Share and file annual reports for UK reporting status to the HMRC.”

    These paragraphs don’t look like they are making any commitment to publish audited annual accounts simply to file reports to UK HMRC as required.

    I can tell you the annual reports are not at all interesting – really uninformative. Obviously the bare minimum permitted by the IoM.

    They have indeed published them. You can get them from the link below. I have the 2016 one – at the time I was battling my Maltese trustee for my pension back (which I was 92% successful at as it happens).

    https://services.gov.im/ded/services/companiesregistry/purchasefileanddocumentlist.iom?BusinessEntityId=330968

    However what is much more interesting is this public announcement yesterday (29th April 2021) on the IoM Financial Services website:-

    https://www.iomfsa.im/fsa-news/2021/apr/blackmore-global-pcc-limited/

    … particularly point 9: “The Authority is considering appropriate next steps in respect of Blackmore appearing to have operated as a collective investment scheme despite not being established as such as required under the Collective Investment Schemes Act 2008.” – which I complained of to the IoM FSA, accusing Blackmore of operating a collective even though that wasn’t what they were licensed to do, back in 2016 and they were not at all interested – just like our own FCA! Now they wake up 5 years later?

    Points in section 8 are also interesting but not sure of the implications for existing victims – whether it helps them or not I can’t work out.

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  11. Hi Stephen.

    The offering document was specific.

    SHAREHOLDER INFORMATION
    Reports and Accounts
    Audited consolidated financial statements will be prepared as at the end of each financial
    year, which will be 5th April……etc

    I have no idea whether running an unregulated open-ended collective investment scheme is a criminal offence in the Isle of Man (as it is in the UK) but the evidence against them is damning. I am aware that a regular Bond Review commenter managed to secure about £400k out of the fund a few years back (which would drag the fund into being an open ended collective investment scheme), and that person would delight in sending Nunn & McCreesh to the clink.

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  12. …This is very interesting indeed, I invested in them and Bentley Global, both have failed.
    The latter Bentley is concerning too, the CEO Alan Bentley personally rang me to say football has stopped in the Far East so trading has stopped and the company is now listing its platform on an exchange so they want to convert my loan investment into shares at discount, what does everyone think?
    I think they just want to avoid paying me as they are in default.

    This is worrying, Brev you should look into this, it’s been problems after problems with Bentley Global.
    If they really had my funds they would just offer me redemption rather than trying to switch me into something else to buy time…

    City of London Police should look into Bentley affairs with forensic accountants… they are a concerning bunch from Liverpool….

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  13. @D Woods

    Here is my copy of the Offer Document …. there isn’t even a section called “Shareholder Information” so I don’t know what “Offering Document” you are looking at. Can you share it?

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1p2iKTLlmJ8OxGZYDGTd3Z6gWpRY0HMba/view?usp=sharing

    Moreover, the “illegality” I referred to was the recent announcement by IoMFSA (yesterday) saying they (Blackmore) operated a “collective” when they were not licensed to do so, as they registered the fund as a closed ended fund not a collective.

    I gave a link to the announcement.

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  14. btw @D Woods … the person that managed to drag £400k out of Blackmore? – Didn’t drag £400k – it was only £300k … and it was the Maltese trustee that did all the dragging …. they must have had some leverage over Nunn & McCreesh …. 😉

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