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Offshore Icelandic funds at risk

By Paul Lewis
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Barbara Segal
Retired opera singer Barbara Segal cannot access her life savings

Savers with money in offshore subsidiaries of two collapsed Icelandic banks may not get all of it back.

Landsbanki Guernsey and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man) were stopped from trading earlier this week.

Money in these offshore funds is not covered by the compensation schemes operated in the UK or in Iceland, nor the chancellor's guarantee.

Guernsey has no compensation scheme at the moment but Isle of Man will pay up to £50,000.

Many affected

There are thought to be thousands of British people who have savings with these banks in Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Many have substantial funds there.

Opera singer Barbara Segal from Manchester retired to Sri Lanka and opened a dog rescue home.

If you can't trust a bank what do you do?
Barbara Segal

All her money was with Kaupthing Isle of Man.

She discovered the problems when she tried to move money at the weekend.

She could not do that and now cannot use her cash card.

She told Money Box, "I have in one account £187,000 - that's my life savings - I live off the interest on that.

"And in a current account I have £6,500 which I use for emergency money.

"I just don't know what to do - I have absolutely no other money.

"If you can't trust a bank what do you do - keep it under your bed?"

Guarantee limits

The Treasury has confirmed to the BBC that the guarantee by the Chancellor Alistair Darling that no-one would lose money after Landsbanki and Kaupthing collapsed earlier this week, does not extend to these independent offshore islands which are not part of the United Kingdom, nor the European Union.

In addition savers will get a share of proceeds of any liquidation, but that will depend on the outcome
John Aspden, chief executive of the Financial Supervision Commission, Isle of Man
Instead savers will have to look to the Isle of Man compensation scheme which was introduced on 7 October.

John Aspden, chief executive of the island's Financial Supervision Commission, confirmed to Money Box that the scheme will apply to customers of Kaupthing Singer & Friendlander (Isle of Man).

"The compensation scheme does apply up to £50,000.

"In addition savers will get a share of proceeds of any liquidation, but that will depend on the outcome."

On 9 October the court appointed Michael Simpson of PricewaterhouseCoopers as provisional liquidator.

No information is currently available about the assets the bank may have.

Other options?

The chief minister of Isle of Man has said Kaupthing Bank hf in Iceland gave a guarantee in 2007 to cover client deposits in its Isle of Man subsidiary.

"We have made representations to the United Kingdom government… to press the government of Iceland to honour Kaupthing's guarantee."

We are doing everything we can... to enable a part payment to depositors and creditors to be made as soon as possible
Richard Garrard of Deloitte & Touche
Savers with Landsbanki Guernsey are in a more difficult position.

Guernsey has no compensation scheme.

It may introduce one later in the year but that may not help people who lost money before it begins.

That would leave customers of Landsbanki Guernsey queuing up with other creditors when the company is liquidated.

Administrator Richard Garrard of Deloitte & Touche told the BBC's Moneybox programme:

"There are significant liquid funds available to the bank and we are doing everything we can within the boundaries of the law to enable a part payment to depositors and creditors to be made as soon as possible."


BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday,
11 October 2008 at 1204 BST.



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SEE ALSO
Latest Icesave news and links
10 Oct 08 |  Moneybox
Money Box Live Special
07 Oct 08 |  Moneybox
Government pledges action on bank
10 Oct 08 |  Isle of Man
Bank savers facing anxious wait
10 Oct 08 |  Isle of Man
Savings protection boost approved
09 Oct 08 |  Isle of Man
Savings protection plans 'agreed'
08 Oct 08 |  Guernsey
States will 'protect interests'
07 Oct 08 |  Guernsey
Iceland bank is in administration
07 Oct 08 |  Guernsey

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