Rebus Investment Solutions, a company which helps investors recoup losses from complex investments which they argue they have been mis-sold, has secured £750,000 of compensation on behalf of five clients invested in a carbon credit scheme.
Rebus, which is currently pursuing action on behalf of about 500 clients against 90 advisers, has described the successful claims as the "tip of the iceberg".
The firm is expecting to recover between £1.5m and £7.5m worth of investor capital over the next six to nine months.
Of the money recovered, £650,000 relates to six clients of Anthony Clark, an adviser and director of Archer Bramley.
According to Rebus, Clark was found by Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to have promoted the Carbon Trading Partnership, an unregulated collective investment scheme (UCIS), to clients without conducting proper assessments relating to their suitability.
In reaching his conclusion in one case, the ombudsman, Doug Mansell stated: "I do not accept that just because Mrs S [the complainant] was a business woman she was suitably experienced to understand the risk implications of a scheme such as this.
"Nor do I agree that Mrs S could reasonably be regarded as having sufficient knowledge about investments to justify being classified as a ‘relevant' investor, so that an unregulated scheme could be recommended to her."
A further £100,000 recovered relates to a client of Michael Coulson-Tabb, an ex-adviser of Morgans Insurance Broking, now of Dante Partners, who was also found by FOS to have mis-sold an investment in the Carbon Trading Partnerships.
Rebus is now representing a number of other clients of Morgans in respect of this and other schemes.
In reaching his preliminary decision ombudsman Raj Varajaradan said: "I am satisfed that Mr B [the complainant] was persuaded to invest in the scheme as it was presented as a suitable investment by virtue of the seemingly guaranteed tax advantages.
"I am satisfied that it was more than likely than not that if a proper explanation of the high level of risks associated with the investment had been made that Mr B would not have invested.....Further in this instance, I consider that the customer would not have been in this class of investment at all had it not been for the negligent advice by the firm."
In the case of Mr B, the complainant has suffered actual losses amounting to approximately £330,000 with any additional tax liabilities and penalties yet to be determined.
The complainant's award was limited by the FOS's cap to £100,000 on monetary awards.
However, following a recent High Court judgment which ruled that investors who accepted the maximum award from the FOS can pursue their adviser through the courts for more money, Rebus is now pursuing the adviser for losses in excess of the cap and will instruct lawyers to issue proceedings unless the adviser comes to the negotiating table with a sensible offer, Rebus said.
Richard Rhys, of Rebus, said: "It's not just wealthy tax evaders or celebrities that are falling foul of HMRC's crackdown on these schemes. In fact, the vast majority of clients we represent are everyday people for whom these schemes have been represented as legitimate investment schemes; people that were not made fully aware of the risks involved, or the potential costs."
Dante Partners declined to comment. Archer Bramley could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.
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