Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 10:29 UK

Couple fear loss of Iceland 1.2m

Ruth and Darren Johnston
Ruth and Darren Johnston sold the family business in March

A couple who put 1.2m from the sale of their family business into an Icelandic bank fear they have lost the money.

The cash was Darren and Ruth Johnston's proceeds from the sale of one of north Wales' biggest caravan parks, Winkups at Towyn, Abergele, in Conwy county.

The couple, from near Denbigh, invested the money in an offshore bond which was placed in an Isle of Man subsidiary of a failed Icelandic bank.

The account is not guaranteed by either the British or Isle of Man governments.

The family-owned 17-acre holiday caravan and camping park was sold earlier this year after a drop in takings last winter made them fear a recession.

The Johnstons invested their part of the proceeds in an offshore bond offered by Royal Skandia.

However, the money was placed in an Isle of Man branch of Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander (KSF), an investment banking UK subsidiary of the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

Royal Skandia have told the couple in a letter: "At this time you are not able to switch money from these deposits to other assets. We recognise that these developments will cause you considerable distress."

Mr Johnston, 43, said: "We're not fat cats, risk-takers or someone gambling on the stock market, just a couple who deposited money where we were advised it would be safe.

"Many other people also have their life savings there and we feel helpless and somehow the victims of politics in all this."

The couple, who have two young sons, said they had been told where to invest their money in a high interest account by a financial adviser.

The Johnstons also said they were facing a capital gains tax bill of 120,000 next March for the missing investment.

We still pay tax in this country and therefore why aren't we British savers?
Darren Johnston

Mr Johnston said he had joined a website linking depositors in the Icelandic bank.

"If you go to the website and read the stories there are some horrendous stories on there of people that had all their money," he told BBC Radio Wales.

He said the family did have some money to get by and were also getting help from his mother.

He said he had a strong message for the UK government who he said "don't want to know".

"Basically I don't believe I'm not a British saver. They've made a statement saying they will not let British savers lose money in the Icelandic bank crisis.

Smaller park

"I've paid tax in this country since I had my first job with Bulmers when I was 22. I'm 43 now.

"I don't avoid tax. The product I'm in does not avoid tax. We still pay tax in this country and therefore why aren't we British savers?"

Mrs Johnston, 47, a former hairdresser, said : "We feel very angry, frustrated and abandoned.

"We had wanted the money to tide us over the recession and then had hoped to buy a smaller park which we could manage without staff."

Mr Johnston has written to David Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West, who said he was very concerned".

The MP said: "I will write to the Treasury and do what I can to help."

Royal Skandia said it was in talks with local authorities and the UK government about compensation schemes.

A bank spokesman said: "We are doing everything we can for our clients."


SEE ALSO
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