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Riches to Rags thanks to the FSA
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We were recommended to Oaktree Financial Services and their MD Stephen Higham by a friend Chris Godkin who also had considerable investments with them in 1995.

We were about to sell four houses near London and move to France. So a good safe home for our life’s savings and investment monies was essential.

At the time Higham said that we could easily obtain 8% return on our monies and suggested an offshore bond that was tax beneficial. We would be able to live comfortably on the interest generated and his 1% commission was more than reasonable.

The proceeds of the sale of three of our properties were therefore paid to the three recommended offshore insurance companies. In total £527,950.00 was sent directly to Scottish Equitable, Royal SunAlliance and The Old Mutual.

Higham immediately paid us back some of the commission paid to him by the insurance companies further endearing him to us.

We now know that from day one he created a confidence charade to gain our trust in his management of our funds. Presenting an impressive office block premises saying it was all paid for and the company had substantial assets.

Annual valuations were doctored from the first year and we never saw valuations from the insurance companies as Higham requested they were always sent to him. Then creatively enhanced by Higham and retyped by his secretary on Oaktree stationary to be sent on to us.

Over the years it was shown to us that our initial investment was safe and holding its value even though we were taking 8% annually to live on. Little did we know that our drawings were depleting the bonds and with management, dealing charges as well as the markets fluctuations had almost vanished after seven years.

He did adjust the returns as the markets were affected by world events even showing a considerable loss after 9/11. But sent several letters indicating that our particular investments had recovered well.

With the very reasonable valuations and returns presented to us by Higham we gave Oaktree Financial Services more cash as and when we disposed of more assets. Even my mother’s savings and proceeds of her home went into the Oaktree pot. Altogether another £262,820.00 in cash was paid by cheque to Oaktree Financial Services.

We assume this had been the plan of Higham's right from the outset and over the seven years we trusted him with our entire worldly assets of over £750,000. Even entertaining him at our home and recommending others to him. Our assets have now been reduced to a mere £52,000.

Higham has had many years to divert and hide these funds as we now know he paid our monies into a second Oaktree bank account. And from there could access the funds at will. Also issuing fake Treasury Bonds to give clients assurances of good investments.

Obviously this deception could not be sustained indefinitely. And when it became evident that misappropriation of client’s funds had been discovered, another convenient charade of feigned suicide was acted out. Miraculously Higham survived along with the suicide note admitting wrongdoing.

After admitting to the police and the FSA, who had licensed this previously convicted felon to handle client’s investments he is now in hiding. His criminal record of similar illegal dealings with client’s monies only gave him a suspended sentence in 1989.

The PIA was fully aware of Higham’s previous misdemeanors and had him marked in their records as "High risk and requiring close attention". This was stated as fact at the first creditors meeting!

Another convenient move is the announcement that his wife is divorcing him. I would presume that this will distance even more funds away from the legal processes of recovery.

More amazing facts come to light as his brother and other directors of Oaktree admit to being unaware of Stephan Higham’s criminal activities. So only the one “fall guy” will take the blame. But with his previous record of deception I cannot believe that his brother and wife were not aware over many years that client’s monies were being fraudulently used and stolen.

All in all Stephen Higham has over many years managed to plunder clients money by gaining their confidence. Some of these funds are now deposited out of reach of the authorities and legal minds trying to trace them. Some 30 clients have been affected to a greater or lesser degree. Some like us having lost virtually their entire life’s savings at a time when recovery and being able to start again at retirement age is a daunting prospect.

How can he be allowed to profit from these illegal actions and the ruination of so many other lives?

We found out about the collapse of Oaktree while touring in America and had to immediately sell our vehicles at a great loss to enable us to return to our home in France. Here we had all the paperwork and documents relating to our dealings with Higham.

We are now reduced to an impoverished state unable to enjoy our hard earned retirement. As we have absolutely no income from any source including the pension’s service, our life is on hold. We have to sell what valuables and possessions we have just to sustain life and pay bills.

Now when we should be able to take it easy we have to offer B&B in our home. We cannot afford to be ill as a visit to the doctor and medication cost money here in France. 2006


Honours list: Former FSA chief Hector Sants knighted despite regulatory failures Hector Sants, the former Financial Services Authority chief executive criticised over regulatory failures during the financial crisis, has been knighted in the New Year Honours list.

Hector Sants has reportedly been offered a package worth £3m - Lord Myners said the size of the deal was maybe a 'mistake' By Alistair Osborne, Helia Ebrahimi and Katherine Rushton 12:01AM GMT 29 Dec 2012 

Mr Sants’ surprise award for “services to financial services and regulation” drew immediate brickbats from politicians and bankers, quick to highlight the FSA’s rocky record during his tenure. Paul Moore, the ex-HBOS head of risk who blew the whistle on the lack of controls at the bank, said: “This is extraordinary. Hector Sants was part of a system that clearly failed. For most people that doesn’t mean you are rewarded with a knighthood.” Mr Sants became FSA chief executive in July 2007 after three years heading its wholesale markets wing – though he maintained that Northern Rock, which collapsed two months later due to a wholesale funding crisis, fell under the FSA’s retail arm. He struggled to deflect the blame, however, for his oversight of RBS, taking his fair share of criticism in the report the FSA finally produced on that bank’s failure. At a subsequent Treasury Select Committee hearing in January 2012, Mr Sants rejected accusations that the FSA had been “asleep at the wheel”, while his efforts to absolve himself from some of the blame drew the remark from committee chairman Andrew Tyrie: “It does sound as though you are dumping on your predecessor.” Mr Sants, who began his career at stockbroker Phillips & Drew, ran into more controversy this month, becoming compliance head at Barclays on a reported pay package of up to £3m. Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said: “He was a very solid food manufacturing analyst at Phillips & Drew, but does he really need a knighthood now on top of his £3m package at Barclays?” Mr Sants said: “This award is a testament to the hard work of everyone at the FSA during the crisis, their willingness to learn lessons and to bring about the changes necessary.” Alongside Mr Sants, there was also a knighthood for Hossein Yassaie, the Iranian boss of Imagination Technologies, designer of chips for Apple’s iPhone. “I couldn’t have had a better Christmas present,” he said. “I came to this country and made it my home, and to have my achievements recognised by the country I have adopted is amazing.” David Wootton, the former Lord Mayor of London, and Peter Hendy, the commissioner of Transport for London, are also knighted, while the inventor of Air Miles and Nectar loyalty cards, Sir Keith Mills, receives a Knight Grand Cross (GBE) for his role as deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games. LOCOG chief executive Paul Deighton, who is set to become Britain’s infrastructure tsar, becomes a Knight Commander. Kenneth Grange, designer of the InterCity 125 train, Britain's first parking meter and the rural post box, is also knighted. Sir Alan Budd, a founding member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, who came out of retirement to lead the Office for Budget Responsibility, also gets a GBE. Another MPC founding member, DeAnne Julius, takes a DCMG. Business CBEs include Tim Breedon, ex-Legal & General chief; Martha Lane Fox, the digital champion who co-founded lastminute.com; Tony Pidgley, founder of housebuilder Berkeley; Philip Cox, the International Power boss; Helen Deeble, CEO of P&O Ferries; and Peter Marks, the Co-op’s former chief, who recently retired having led the group to the purchase of 632 branches from Lloyds Banking Group.