Blackmore Global under investigation by Isle of Man regulators

Blackmore logo 2019

Blackmore Global, the sister investment scheme to the UK minibond that collapsed with £46 million of potential losses, is being investigated for potentially running an illegal collective investment scheme.

Blackmore Global was established a few years before Blackmore Bonds. It is, on the surface, an unregulated investment scheme consisting of a closed-ended company registered in the Isle of Man.

The BBC revealed in 2018 that a number of UK pension investors had been missold in transferring their pension funds into Blackmore Global, an inherently high risk unregulated investment. The linked article has been suppressed by Google – along with its BBC source – due to legal action by Blackmore.

The articles remain suppressed despite the fact that Blackmore has never proved or even attempted to prove in a court of law that any part of my article is untrue, and the same applies (so far as I am aware) to the BBC’s.

Investors in Blackmore Global were locked in to the fund for 10 years. Blackmore Global was incorporated in September 2013 and the earliest any Blackmore Global investors will be able to cash out of the fund is therefore September 2023.

The current status of investments in Blackmore Global is unknown as it does not publish regular independently audited accounts.

After seven and a half years of operation, the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority has now accused Blackmore Global of running an unregulated investment scheme.

The IOMFSA went public with its accusations because it “considers it is desirable in the public interest to publish the information”.

The IOMFSA’s accusation is based on the following:

8.1 When Blackmore was established it availed of an exemption provided in the Collective Investment Schemes (Definition) Order 2008 (the “Order”). The relevant exemption in the Order was at paragraph 4: “…and no other body corporate other than an open-ended investment company, shall be regarded as constituting a collective investment scheme.

8.4 The Offering Document (and Article 12 of the Articles of Association) provides that Blackmore may only repurchase shares in exceptional circumstances subject to strict criteria:

“12.2 Unless shares are expressed to be redeemable, the Company may only purchase, redeem or otherwise acquire them pursuant to –

(a) an offer to all shareholders which if accepted would leave the relative rights of the Shareholders unaffected and which affords each shareholder a period of not less than 14 days within which to accept the offer; or

(b) an offer to one or more shareholders to which all shareholders have consented in writing; or

(c) an offer to one or more shareholders in respect of which the Directors have passed

a resolution stating that in their opinion the transaction benefits the remaining shareholders and the terms of the offer are fair and reasonable to the company and the remaining shareholders”.

Or to translate from Manks Gaelic:

Neither my sister nor I operate a collective investment scheme. We like them, but we don’t operate them. We’re from the Isle of Man.

Blackmore Global was only able to operate as an unregulated, unlisted investment scheme on the basis it was a closed-ended scheme, meaning that to join an existing investor had to sell you their shares, and to exit you had to find a new investor to sell you their shares. Isle of Man securities law recognises that this is inherently less likely to be flogged to the public than an open-ended company which can generate new shares for any investor who wants to join and extinguish them for any investor who wants to cash out.

It is technically possible for a closed-ended investment company to buy its own shares off the shareholders using cash in the company. Do this often enough, however, and you start to behave like an open-ended fund.

The IOMFSA alleges this is what Blackmore Global was doing.

8.5 The Authority became aware that between March 2015 and May 2019 there had been regular and substantial redemptions made out of Blackmore.

8.6 The Authority does not consider that the number and nature of the redemptions processed and made were exceptional in nature, or that Blackmore was able to evidence that the transactions benefited the remaining shareholders and that the terms of offers were fair and reasonable to the remaining shareholders.

The extent to which these regular and substantial redemptions made out of Blackmore has to do with investors like those featured in the BBC investigation being allowed to cash out prior to the ten-year lock-in period ending is unknown. In part due to its own lack of disclosure.

Also unknown as yet is whether any of these redemptions were made by Blackmore directors or controlling persons.

The IOMFSA is now considering “appropriate next steps”.

9 thoughts on “Blackmore Global under investigation by Isle of Man regulators

  1. Hi Brev,

    I wonder if you could investigate another company, which I also believe is a ‘Collective Investivment’ company, or a best running a Ponzi or Pyramid type investment scam.

    The company is called ‘FutureFuel Renewables’ and operate from London, SE1 7LD. I have commented several times about this company, but I am sure it is a ‘Scam’ company.

    Any information you can provide to me will be most gratefully received, as I hope that further action will be taken by either Action Fraud or the FCA or even The Metropolitan Police, if further information could be provided.

    Best regards,

    Mark

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  2. Oooooooo. It takes some time but it is now out of the wood work…some of our group did pension transfers but yet to hear their good luck…

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  3. The Radio 4 programme of 2018 seems to have gone but the BBC News Website still carries the article.https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42776709

    “The current status of investments in Blackmore Global is unknown as it does not publish regular independently audited accounts.” It is true they have never published audited accounts. Moreover until early in 2020 they had never published the underlying investments but STM ( the Malta trustee that took over the Harbour Pension Scheme in early 2018 and so inherited a number of members invested in Blackmore Global) managed to get from Blackmore their underlying assets. You can see the document STM sent to its members last year here:-https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Rxf2mj2R7GJxo4mkbWq6Rqt8v9KBlhsd/view?usp=sharing

    There are a number of “issues” with this list. One is Swan Holdings (previously owned by Brian Weal but he resigned after the Gibraltar FSC revoked his licence following governance failings with the Advalorem Value Asset Fund Ltd. Mr. Weal was one of the founding directors of Blackmore Global along with Nunn & McCreesh. There is another statement from theGibraltar FSC here: –https://www.fsc.gi/news/advalorem-value-asset-fund-limited-advalorem-90
    Some of you may recognise another name in that statement – Minette Compson – who featured in a Brev Blog in April 2020:https://bondreview.co.uk/2020/04/08/symtomax-to-sue-bond-review-over-third-party-comments/
    In 2013 Dalriada was appointed trustee of a number of pension scams (schemes – freudian slip) and in an announcement you find good old Swan Holdings and Advalorem … surprise surprise ….https://www.dalriadatrustees.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Milton-2nd-Announcement.pdf
    What a cosy little group …..
    Another issue with the Blackmore’s underlying assets list is Kingston Capital Partners. Owned by Nunn & McCreesh, domiciled in Belize …. surprise surprise ….https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/10187280

    STM sent members a letter in August 2020 stating they had concerns with Blackmore [sic] and were looking at legal options to get control of the fund or force it into administration to try and give members some options – seriously. In my opinion the fund is dry. Gone. Empty – like its sister company Blackmore Bonds plc!

    People in the offshore QROPS in Malta (there are two QROPS here I know of), Isle of Man, invested in Blackmore Global, are facing a significantly reduced standard of living in retirement.

    My research in Malta however, shows there is a strong case against the QROPS there (I don’t know about IoM) for allowing Blackmore Global as a suitable investment for the schemes. Victims should be complaining to their scheme administrators, but I don’t see a lot of movement in this area from victims.

    I don’t know whether the IoM statement about Blackmore Global helps or hinders any attempt by STM (and other QROPS) to get control of Blackmore Global for members. Personally, I feel there is a very strong case in Malta for the QROPS to be responsible for the losses incurred by their members. This still has to be tested.

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  4. I heard they were a good Company. Although it was some years ago I heard of them.

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  5. Hi Brev,

    They were upto 2 years ago when a change in management saw investors bond interest payments stop.

    Since then, although they are trying to raise Capital, again in the form of a 3 or 5 year bond, investors from the 1st bonds have received no payments, and in fact, I was told that just over a year ago the company was going into insolvency, hence my questioning about how they can offer a new bond to investors.

    I am still getting regular literature from them concerning the ‘New Bonds’ scheme, and that is why I think this company is now a ‘Scam’ company.

    When I asked for my investment back, 1 year ago, I was scammed out of £2,000 in order to secure this investment, which came to No Fruition. So I am now owed £12,000 plus 2 years of Bond Interest, but I doubt I will ever see this money again, and that is why I am urging people not to invest with this company as 2 years down the line, the company will cease trading and the investors will lose their money. What do you think!.

    Best regards,

    Mark

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  6. Here’s a strange development on the Blackmore Global debacle:

    Click to access Proposed-Restructure-14.05.21.pdf

    it’s from the STM website.

    STM bought the Harbour Pensions (Malta) scheme back in 2017/18. In that purchase they got c. 1600 members from Harbour. Some of those members (exact number not known) had transferred UK defined benefit pensions into the Harbour scheme and then invested (some 100% allocation) into Blackmore Global! So STM have some victims of the Blackmore Global scam by virtue of that purchase. STM also have some victims from the Trafalgar Multi Asset scam which collapsed in 2016:

    https://www.internationalinvestment.net/internationalinvestment/news/3505179/qrops-clients-reported-devastated-suspended-trafalgar-fund-news

    Not to mention STM acquired Carey Pensions in 2019 (now called Options UK) – that lost the appeal in the now famous Adams v Carey suit:

    https://international-adviser.com/carey-pensions-ruling-forces-stm-group-to-delay-results/

    AND, on the website of the Malta Arbiter (their version of an Ombudsman) you will find cases upheld against STM that involved the Continental Wealth Management (CWM) scam! So they clearly have some victims of that debacle in their scheme.

    AND, here, you find they had a member invested in the Resort Group which included the well documented Cape Verde scam (also subject of a BBC Panorama programme in 2016).

    https://www.moneymarketing.co.uk/news/ifa-warns-of-db-transfers-to-illiquid-investments-danger/

    These beg the question, does STM have any legit investments in their care or are they just up to their neck in scams? I don’t understand why the MFSA aren’t taking them to task!

    I have no idea how this move helps victims locked into the unregulated BG collective. It is my opinion the fund has no value and Blackmore are seeking to blame Brexit and Covid (seriously?) when in fact it is poor governance and nothing more than a highly organised scam.

    Transferring these members, in-specie to a UK trust (which in itself presents regulatory questions in my opinion) because whilst the claim is that investors are “institutional” – ie the QROPS – the actual beneficiaries are unsophisticated retail clients who really just want their pensions back! Are these QROPS simply trying to shift the problem elsewhere?

    In my opinion, Blackmore Global has no money left in it. It comprises underlying assets that are themselves offshore, unregulated investments, in Mickey Mouse jurisdictions, that are opaque and most likely empty pots. I would wager (a lot) the victims are sitting on empty pensions. Why don’t they know it and shout as loud as the Blackmore Bond victims? Because the offshore trustees (like STM) keep sending them fictitious valuations of their pensions showing them to be largely intact. The victims are vulnerable and have absolutely no idea what is going on or what to do about it! They really don’t! They were exploited in the first place by Nunn & McCreesh (plus others in a highly organised scam) and now being conned by the QROPS who should a) come clean with the truth and b) remedy the situation rather than sweeping it under the carpet.

    STM sent members a letter in August 2020 identifying concerns it had with the BG fund. These concerns included the opaque nature of the fund and lack of audited accounts and that they had no knowledge how the underlying assets are valued. Then in September 2020, STM sent one member a statement valuing his fund at pretty much the same as when he transferred into the QROPS back in 2014/15! It doesn’t take a genius to realise that if you have concerns there have never been audited accounts or have no visibility how the underlying assets are valued, then the statements being sent to members are fictitious and the Mickey Mouse jurisdiction doesn’t seem to care since the MFSA doesn’t seem to be cleaning up the mess it is in with these scams on their patch!

    People invested in Blackmore Global have to realise their pensions are most likely worthless and they should start shouting and complaining loudly. You have opportunities to get your money back. My research shows (in Malta at least, there are victims that are/were in a QROPS on the Isle of Man) the QROPS may have breached Malta Trust law and could be liable for victim’s losses – this has yet to be tested since I can find no evidence anyone has yet complained!

    Does this in-specie transfer help victims or is it just some sleight-of-hand attempt by the QROPS to move the problem somewhere else? I have no idea what this move achieves for victims.

    One thing I am sure of though, is victims (and there are likely thousands of them) need to wake up and smell the coffee and take action if they want any chance of a decent retirement!! I have seen no evidence they are doing this and there is a time limit on complaints.

    It is frustrating, sitting on the sidelines watching this tragedy unfold.

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  7. If you search for “Blackmore global” on Google those articles would usually appear, but don’t due to legal action by Blackmore. Instead you get a notice at the bottom saying “In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 12 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at LumenDatabase.org”, linked to the Lumen page I linked to in that paragraph.

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  8. Yeah, you’re right. However the BBC News website article that accompanied the you & yours programme still shows up ….

    However, that said … Google isn’t the only search engine – use Bing, Yahoo etc. and there doesn’t seem to be any suppression there. Dozens of articles ….

    Maybe there’s a lesson here …. people should knock google off its pedestal and choose alternatives …

    Furthermore, I would wager (a lot) there is no defamation suit going on … Nunn & McCreesh say these things but never do it …. wouldn’t dare, since they would have to air their dirty laundry in a public court. There would be a journalist feeding frenzy …. in my opinion, Nunn & McCreesh are so full of it …. such pathetic cowards …. doesn’t take a genius to see what I think of the gruesome twosome!

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