Today on behalf of the Justice for Rover Workers group I attended a meeting with Nigel Petrie and Peter Dillon (representing Phoenix Venture Holdings) and trust fund trustees Prof. Dr. Carl Chinn and Eric McDonald. The other trustee, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu, was unable to attend.
At the meeting an update was provided on the recent legal proceedings from Phoenix Venture Holdings against Price Waterhouse Coopers. This was an attempt to reclaim monies taken from the Phoenix Venture Holdings accounts which had been earmarked for the ex-employee trust fund. The sum of over £12 million was taken from the accounts by HBOS unfairly in the view of Phoenix Venture Holdings.
I’ve attended numerous meetings with Nigel Petrie and Peter Dillon over the course of the last two years and it has been made very clear that any attempts to secure money for the trust fund were dependant on a successful outcome of this case. Sadly, as reported today, their legal claims reached the high courts last month and were unsuccessful.
Both the Archbishop Dr Sentamu and Phoenix Venture Holdings representatives have contacted the Lloyds Banking Group (the parent group of HBOS) in an attempt to recoup the money on moral grounds. These pleas were rejected.
Therefore, as presented at today's meeting Phoenix Venture Holdings claim that all avenues to secure funds for the trust fund have been exhausted. Closure of the trust fund was therefore discussed.
At this point Carl Chinn, Eric Mcdonald and I made one final last request to the Phoenix 5 via Nigel/Peter for them to make a substantial sum from their collective £42 million MG Rover remuneration, available for the trust fund. However, such calls have already been made continuously by Carl Chinn in the press and also by myself at the face-to-face meetings, all of which have been flatly rejected.
The situation regarding MG Rover Capital was also discussed. Prior to the meeting I recently contacted the Pensions Regulator and also the acting liquidator to understand the situation regarding the remaining money on the accounts. This sum is approximately £23 million in cash. The pensions regulator has until the end of December 2012 to make a claim. Should it not do so, the money will be split between its directors; HBOS 51% and the nominated Phoenix Venture Holdings directors 49%. It was again made clear today, that should the situation arise that this money isn’t claimed by the pensions regulator, nothing would be transferred to the fund meaning that the ex-directors would stand in line for a further £12 million cash bonus. As MG Rover Capital is not part of the Phoenix Venture Holdings umbrella, it is deemed non-applicable for the trust fund.
It is with great sadness then, that hopes for the trust fund now lie with the rallying call from Carl, Eric and myself to the Phoenix 5 to show some morality to the ex workers and make a significant contribution to the trust fund. Should this be unsuccessful, plans for the £23k currently on the accounts of the trust fund (set aside for the administration costs to deal with the pay-out we had hoped for) have to be concluded by the trustees and the trust fund will close.
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