Mother tells of ‘devastating’ impact caused by collapse of Eridge firm London Capital & Finance

The company, London Capital & Finance [LCF], was founded by Simon Hume-Kendall.

Amanda Cunningham, 50, invested £22,500 in LCF that was originally set up by the former Tunbridge Wells Conservative Party Chairman who retained links to the firm until its collapse earlier this year.

Around 11,500 people are set to lose a total £237million following the demise of the company based at Eridge Park.

Ms Cunningham told the Times this week: “I am a full-time carer for my son, Jack. He has autism. This money was my lifesavings. It was money to help Jack who will need care for the rest of his life.”

She explained the reason for her investment in the company.

“I had put the money into an ISA, but at the time the interest rates were very low so I looked on a comparison website and found LCF. The eight per cent interest was a great attraction.

“It was so easy. I had very little contact with them and just did it all online.”

The first she realised something was wrong was in January.

“I was due an interest payment but instead I got an email from LCF to say the FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] had frozen their assets.”

She continued: “It has been devastating. It has left me in a very difficult position. I’m in exceptional hardship. That money was all I had.”

Amanda Cunningham lost £22,500 in the collapse of LCF

Amanda Cunningham had this message for Mr Hume-Kendall and his associates: “They are no better than scammers. They are preying on the vulnerable. They are the scourge of the Earth.

“I lay awake at night worrying about how Jack is going to cope in the future. We will probably have to claim benefits to support his social care, and all the while people like Simon Hume-Kendall are living in the lap of luxury. I bet he has never had to endure financial hardship like this. I don’t know how Simon Hume-Kendall sleeps at night.”

She continued: “I want him to pay everything back. All of it. I think he is ruthless.”

Ms Cunningham is one of three investors that this newspaper has traced. Together they are set to lose more than £350,000.

Administrators Smith & Williamson were called in after it was discovered the investment firm had been misleading investors with its marketing material.

LCF were selling unregulated mini-bonds, offering investors an eight per cent return for money that was purportedly being lent to a range of businesses.

In reality, the administrators discovered most of the £237million went to a convoluted web of business interests, stretching from Cornish holiday cottages and land on a Cape Verde island to a racing stables and even a helicopter.

All these business interests are linked to Tunbridge Wells businessman Simon Hume-Kendall or his associates: Hadlow Down-based Elten Barker, Crowborough businessman, Spencer Golding, and LCF director Andy Thomson.

One company, London Oil and Gas [LOG], borrowed £124 from LCF before it too fell into administration. Smith and Williamson, say LOG was a subsidiary of London Power Corporation whose ultimate parent is London Group LLP, which is owned and controlled by Simon Hume Kendall and Elten Barker.

Administrators also say investors are expected to get around 20 per cent of their money back as only one company LCF lent money to, Independent Oil and Gas, which received nearly £40million, has any chance of paying the money back.

Four people have so far been arrested by the Serious Fraud Office in relation to the collapse.

Simon Hume-Kendall refused to answer questions when the Times knocked on his door last month at his quiet mews house in Tunbridge Wells where he lives with his wife, Helen.

Other investors also want answers…

Paul Hammer, a 69-year-old retired engineer from Windsor, decided to invest in LCF after he had done, what he thought, was enough due diligence into the company.

“I checked on the health of the company with auditors Price Waterhouse Cooper,” he told the Times.

He was assured by PWC as to the financial health of LCF, so said he ploughed £186,000 into the mini-bonds scheme.

Mr Hammer, who has connections to Tunbridge Wells, said: “Last year I could see things were not looking good. In hindsight, I probably should have gone straight to a solicitor.”

Instead he said he went to see Simon Hume-Kendall at his Tunbridge Wells address, but Mr Hume-Kendall refused to answer the door.

“Somebody was in but they wouldn’t answer,” he said.

He added that he also tried to track down Spencer Golding at his equine stables as well as Mr Hume-Kendall’s former solicitor, Robert Sedgewick, but was unsuccessful in tracking either man down.

 “I just want answers,” said Mr Hammer. “It makes me feel physically sick to think what they have got away with.”

‘It is a Ponzi scheme, as simple as that’

Another investor has told how the collapse of LCF has left him £160,000 out of pocket, in what he described as nothing more than ‘a Ponzi scheme’.

The man, who we have chosen not to name is retired and a widower. He told us: “I knew the scheme, like any investments, had no guarantees, but if you look at their literature, every piece mentions that it was regulated and protected by the FCA, but this wasn’t true. They lied.”

He continued: “I was given the impression that the money was going to a substantial number of companies. It wasn’t. We now know they were only lending to 12 companies all of which are connected.

“This was peer-to-peer lending and on the outside there looks absolutely nothing untoward. It is only when you start looking at where the money we invested went, do you realise something doesn’t add up. It is a Ponzi scheme, as simple as that.”

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