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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 08:45 GMT 09:45 UK
Compensation for 25,000 investors
City of London skyline
Some big names in the City were involved in the scandal
Compensation is being offered to 25,000 people who lost money after investing in split capital investment trusts.

Splits were sold as a low-risk way to invest in shares, but when markets fell sharply in 2000, investors lost money.

They will share in 143m set aside after a deal in 2004, between the investment firms concerned and the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The first payout will be set at 40p in the pound, which will see investors being offered 115m.

The rest of the money will be paid in a second tranche later this year which may come to a further 9p in the pound.

The average loss per investment was 6,400, but the average loss per person was 11,400, as many applicants held more than one investment.

But investors will not be compensated for all the losses they suffered.

The company set up to channel the payments to the investors, Fund Distribution Ltd, says it has identified losses among the claimants amounting to 291m.

Turned down

Some applicants had their claims turned down.

About 3,000 did not qualify, because they had not invested in the type of fund covered by the compensation scheme - zero dividend preference shares - which must have been held between 1 July 2000 and 30 June 2002.

And 10,000 other people either made money on their investments or their losses were less than the 250 lower limit set for compensation.

Fund Distribution's offer will be sent out this week and the applicants will have six weeks to decide whether they are going to accept.

If they do, they will have to surrender their right to make any other claims, either through the courts or to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Investors who chose to accept their offer will need to return the formal acceptance forms by 4.30 pm on Monday, 15 May 2006 or the offer will lapse.

Payment will be made about four weeks after the acceptances have been received.

Scandal

The scandal of the split capital investment trusts emerged a few years ago, when the shaky nature of their investment policies was exposed by the sudden three-year long slump in share prices.

The investment trusts had been sold to thousands of private investors, who were often given the impression they were relatively safe investments when, in fact, they were very risky.

The FSA launched an investigation into split-caps in May 2002.

The investigation was huge and involved 780 files of evidence, detailing 27,000 taped conversations and more than 70 interviews.

The FSA presented its evidence to the firms in an effort to shame them into offering compensation, because at the time the investments were sold, the FSA did not regulate the investment trust industry.

After months of negotiations, 20 split-cap firms finally agreed, in December 2004, to pay into a compensation fund worth 143m.


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