Fraud squad make arrests after  £230m of investments put at risk

Fraud squad make arrests after £230m of investments put at risk

20th March 2019

Company founded by former Tory Party chair investigated

FOUR people have been arrested following the collapse of a Tunbridge Wells-based investment company that was founded by the former chairman of the local Conservative Party Simon Hume-Kendall.

Those arrested have not been named and have been release pending further inquiries, but the arrests have put at risk more than £230million in investments made to the company, London Capital & Finance.

There is no suggestion that Mr Hume-Kendall is personally involved in any wrong doing.

The 65-year-old, who resigned from the company in 2013, is a well-known local businessman. He is currently understood to be living near the town centre and is listed as being a director of eight companies.

The Serious Fraud Office [SFO] said on Monday it had arrested four people who were associated with London Capital & Finance.

It is working on an investigation with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), National Crime Agency, City of London Police, Kent Police, Sussex Police and the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit [SEROCU].

The Times reported in January how the FCA had frozen the assets of the investment company following complaints on how the firm was marketing its products.

The LCF scheme collapsed in December after the FCA told it to withdraw its marketing material which it said was “misleading, not fair and unclear”.

The company had been promising clients eight per cent annual interest on their ISAs, much higher than any competitive products. The FCA began investigating following concerns that the firm’s 14,000 clients may not have fully understood the nature of the investment they were making.

Administrators Smith & Williamson stepped in last month raising fears that £236 million in investments made to the company by the firm’s clients could be lost.

These fears have now been heightened following the criminal investigation.

It has also since emerged that the Eridge Park-based London Capital & Finance was a lender to companies linked to the founder director Simon Hume-Kendall, including Independent Oil & Gas, Atlantic Petroleum and London Oil & Gas [LOG], which has also collapsed.

London Oil & Gas [LOG], an oil company that is believed to have borrowed tens of millions of pounds from London Capital & Finance, called in administrators yesterday [Tuesday].

It is believed that LOG received £122 million from LCF.

The oil firm, which counts Hume-Kendall as one of its directors along with Charles Hendry, the former energy minister, has appointed administrators from Smith & Williamson, the same company handling London Capital & Finance’s collapse.

London Capital & Finance appointed administrators at the end of January.

Simon Hume-Kendall, a former shipping boss, had launched the bond seller in 2012, but stepped down as a director in 2013.

The police said members of the public who invested in the scheme between 2016 and 2018 should make contact.

Simon Hume-Kendall, 65, has served as Chair of the Tunbridge Wells' Conservative Party Group and Deputy Chair of the South East's Conservative Party Group.

He was also a Vice President and Director of Crystal Palace football club throughout the 1990s and was once chairman of the group that owned the Daily Sport newspapers.

Mr Hume-Kendall established South Eastern Counties Finance in July 2012. In 2015 the company was rebranded London Capital & Finance, although Mr Hume-Kendall left the business in 2013.

He has 22 appointments listed at Companies House, and eight active directorships, including several companies in Tunbridge Wells.

Over the years, Mr Hume-Kendall has been involved with more than 32 companies, many of which have since been dissolved.

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