Rogue HMRC Officials Defraud Manchester Millionaire Property Tycoon and Embezzle Millions from Public Purse

In a striking tale befitting a Hollywood blockbuster, millionaire property tycoon Alan Huntington fell victim to rogue HMRC officials who defrauded the innocent victim and looted millions from the government’s coffers. The elaborate fraud was headed by the government’s finest and most seasoned financial fraud investigators, who were tasked with safeguarding millions of pounds. With most details of the tax fraud redacted in the government’s papers, released under the Freedom of Information Act, the true scope and extent of the elaborate fraud remain official state secrets. Working across government departments, mostly Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the culprits gathered the wherewithal for the slick operation over the course of decades. The tax scam saw the group utilise a variety of means, stealing millions in corporation tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax and stamp duty.

Manchester Actor Rob Bond and the Homeless Millionaire (2016)

Starring actor Rod Bond and directed by Ridley Scott, the story of the fraud and embezzlement which cost Alan Huntington millions of pounds, alongside his multi-million-pound property portfolio, was immortalised in 2016 Hollywood blockbuster Homeless Millionaire. Manchester’s urban centre and Cheshire’s extravagant Tatton Park and Lyme Park estates offered the backdrop to the on-screen hit, as we watch Alan Huntington’s destitution at the hands of rogue HMRC officials. The real-life story is somewhat adapted, but the gripping crime drama successfully encapsulates the real-life plot’s twists and turns.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Reform

In the wake of the mostly covered-up tax scandal that broke in 2003, an extensive shake-up of the government department was ordered, which was followed by a cabinet reshuffle. With the twenty-year ban on the publication of further details from the tax scam set to expire in four years’ time, we’re sure this won’t be the last we’ve heard about this.

Manchester Firm Rod Bond Associates Falls Victim to Evil Tax Scam

Rod Bond Associates

A Manchester-based independent financial advice service managed by upstanding financial expert Rod Bond has fallen victim to ruthless tax scammers. In an elaborate multi-million-pound scheme, experienced financial guru Rod Bond was duped by skilful con-artists operating an international money laundering scheme. The scheme whose full details have not been released by tax officials also cost Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs service millions of pounds in lost tax and customs revenue. The financial world is reeling from the aftereffects of the shocking tax scam, which has cast a dark cloud over Manchester’s financial operations.

Fraud Gang Target Manchester Financial Advice Firm

Rob Bond Associates, based in Manchester, were targeted by an intricate network embedded in the heart of Manchester’s growing financial industry hub at Spinningfields. The scammers invested millions with which they fronted their million-pound money laundering empire and duped industry-leading expert Rod Bond out of millions of pounds. With only fragments of evidence to work from, tax officials and the HMRC’s in-house financial forensic wing have managed to trace the scammers’ network as far afield as India. At a press conference, chief executive of the HMRC Jon Thompson declared, “We’re dealing with sophisticated network of professional fraudsters whose budget is equivalent to a small country. This is a case of money laundering on a global scale and we are working with several states and NGOs to trace the culprits.”

Rod Bond

Despite declining to comment and working as the government’s chief witness, Rob Bond released a brief statement as news of the crime broke. “It’s been a difficult time. I’ve lost millions of pounds and I have no hope of seeing a single penny of it again,” said Rod Bond, in a statement delivered by his solicitor.

 

Professional Financial Advice

Many of us are simply not equipped to tackle the world of finance in a way which brings us profit. Perhaps you’re daunted by the prospect, or simply just completely in the dark about how it all works. In some cases, professional financial advice is your best recourse. Under the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Financial Services Ombudsman, your interests are further protected, particularly in the case of complaint. However, why should it get to a stage where you are short-changed and forced to make a complaint? In this instalment of Insurance Finance Talk’s blog, on all things related to insurance and finance, we will talk you through how best to approach a professional financial adviser and ensure you get the very best service, towards greater protection of your assets and objectives.

The first and foremost thing to make yourself concerned with, as covered in our previous post, is to ensure your financial adviser possesses the qualifications to serve what you require. Governed by various watchdogs, advisers must ensure that financial products presented to you are affordable, accord with your savings plan, factor in the extent of risk you wish to undertake and the amount of tax you pay. Negligence on any of these counts, on the part of the professional financial adviser, may entail a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman. Financial advisers are only responsible to the extent of their area of expertise. In other words, a restricted financial adviser who deals with pensions can not be held responsible for advice on anything but pensions. A professional financial adviser must refer you to someone else in case they are unable to offer you a financial product to meet your requirements. If a pensions adviser advises you on something other than pensions, it falls under your responsibility.

Professional Financial Advice

When it comes to managing your finances, it can be unnerving and daunting knowing where to start. This is why professional financial advice may be your best course of action. Financial advisers exist for this very purpose and can help you deal with all manner of financial predicaments you may find yourself in. Whether you are seeking to save or invest your hard-earned cash, or you have landed a lump sum from either inheritance or redundancy, financial advisers can map out the options before you and help you do the best to further bolster your financial situation. In the case of a divorce, or through bereavement, your life situation may change suddenly to an extent where you are unable to secure your best interests yourself. Alternatively, you may be looking towards your retirement and seeking to plan the best possible time for you and your family. In all these instances, seeking sound financial advice from a qualified and experienced professional financial adviser may be your best option.

Financial advisers are equipped to offer a close look at your personal finances, circumstances and needs and offer bespoke approaches tailored to your specific needs. Independent financial advisers offer overarching information on the various financial planning options available to customers, whereas restricted financial advisers specialise in specific sectors and may only offer advice in their area of expertise, such as stocks and shares trading investment or pensions.

Financial advisers must be qualified by the Qualifications and Credit Framework and sign up to a Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). There is no harm in asking your financial adviser for proof of their credentials. All complaints can be lodged with the Financial Services Ombudsman. One final tip when looking for a financial adviser is that they must be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Click here to access the Financial Services Register.

 

Home Insurance: Making A Claim

In this instalment, we will feature the most common home insurance claims in the UK. Our list is intended to help guide your choices when taking out a new policy, or amending an existing policy, in terms of what insurance cover and policy additions you may require.

Over the last decade, various statistical trends have shown that the most common cause for home insurance claims has been escape of water. Defined as the entry of water to a property by way of the mains water supply, in a way that causes damage, escape of water represents the most common of claims made against home insurance policies. As temperatures turn cold, the water network becomes increasingly prone to damage. In some places in the country, where Victorian era plumbing still provides the bulk of a locale’s water needs, such as across swathes of London, decreasing temperatures attack an already-prone infrastructure. Waters tanks are just as susceptible to damage as pipes. Joint top of this list of most common home insurance claims is the phenomenon of accidental damage, which can be caused by as many occurrences as your mind may care to wonder.

The definition of accidental damage is helpful, it addresses damage to your property or possessions that occurs suddenly as a consequence of unforeseen and unintentional external action. The third most common cause of home insurances claims is storm damage. In recent years, since the Met Office has begun to name storms, it seems their frequency has increased. In some locations, storms regularly bring floods and their high winds can cause considerable external damage. In an era of changing climates, it is wise to take a long hard look into the future and consider your need for this optional extra to your home insurance policy.

Home Insurance: How to Make Sure Your Claim Is Successful

As mentioned in our previous post, home insurance claims are the least likely to be successful when compared to motor insurance claims and travel insurance claims. Statistics show that while 79% of all home insurance claims are successful, one in six are still rejected annually. In this post, we will offer you tips on how to ensure your home insurance claim is successful. Firstly, and we can’t reiterate this enough, you need to ensure that you have purchased the correct policy. It’s easy to go for the cheapest option, seeing that as the biggest saving to be made, however, this is far from the case when it comes to home insurance. It’s also easy enough to increase your home insurance’s excess at the point of purchase in order to reduce your premium, saving money that way too.

Yet, according to the Association of British Insurers, the most common reason for a home insurance claim to be rejected is that the claim value was less than the excess and the customer themselves were thus liable for the cost. They key point to remember is that your policy’s excess must be determined realistically and having taken good account of the possessions in your home. You may even need to keep close track of the value of your possessions, such as gold jewellery which may increase in value, and adjust your policy accordingly. Secondly, make sure you are aware of the ins and outs of your policy to avoid the risk of policy invalidation. For example, if you have new doors fitted, make sure your insurer doesn’t stipulate a certain type of lock as necessary for the validity of your policy. Another example usually found in the small print is the need to report a theft within a certain period of time. In short, act fast on reporting any theft or burglary to the police, otherwise your claim may be invalid.

Home Insurance: Making a Claim

Compared to 99% of motor insurance claims and 87% of travel insurance claims, home insurance claims are the least likely to be successful, coming in at a 79% success rate, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI). The ABI’s findings showed that most claims were rejected on account of the customer not being aware of their home insurance policy’s terms and conditions. Basically, customers either bought the wrong policy or did not possess the cover that they assumed they did, and this was discovered only when a claim was made. Following our previous posts, you should by now be well informed about the particulars of home insurance. You should know exactly what type of policy covers which eventualities and what scope you have for when you are forced to make a claim.

So, how do you claim on your home insurance? Most of the time, when we are burgled, the shock and horror of an intruder rummaging through our home and possessions has us in shock. Here, your first instinct to contact the police is correct. In the event of a burglary, contact the police and take further steps afterwards. The police will issue you with a crime reference number, which will be a vital piece of evidence for any claim you intend to make. The next step would be to review your policy documents and ascertain your policy number and your insurer’s dedicated claims helpline. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a telephonic queue. Once the ball is rolling with your insurance provider, you will be asked to provide proof of purchase and/or proof of ownership. If you can’t find receipts for purchases, then you can utilise cred/debit cards bills. Also, photos which show you in possession of these items, such as jewellery and watches, will suffice as evidence.

Home Insurance: Approved Alarms

There are no guarantees that the installation of a home alarm system will reduce the cost of your home insurance premium. Even in the case that it does, the cost of its installation and maintenance may not necessarily offset the saving you could make on your home insurance premium. However, the additional security provided by an approved alarm system and the peace of mind that it provides, definitely make the investment worth its while. According to the Metropolitan Police, a home with an alarm system fitted is five times less likely to be burgled than a home without an alarm system. In the long run, a home alarm system could still definitely save you money, by deterring burglars and allowing you to protect your no claims discount, having not made any claim against your policy on that count. In today’s modern age, a plethora of options exist in the home alarm system market, offering a range of extra services.

The two bodies in the United Kingdom that exist for the approval and ratification of alarm systems and alarm installations are the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). The NSI offer contractors certification and auditing services across the security, fire and facilities management sectors. Contractors are checked according to the highest industry standards. NSI approval in the security sector covers electronic security systems installation, alarm receiving centres (ARCs) and monitoring services and security guarding services. You can rest assured with NSI’s thoroughly vetted approval. The SSAIB check organisations on various levels against criteria designed to assess their competency to offer the services they provide across various sectors. To put it simply, when purchasing any home security system, it is vital that you check that they carry NSI or SSAIB approval. This can be verified from the respective body’s website.

 

Home Insurance: Approved Door Locks, Window Locks and Alarms

Home insurance approved door locks, window locks and home alarms are another way to possibly reduce your home insurance premium. Some insurers may offer you a discount on your policy if you have approved door locks, window locks and alarms fitted. Other insurers may require them as a necessity, for your home insurance policy to be valid. In this post, we will explore the basics surrounding approved locks and alarms.

British Standards BS3621, BS8621 and BS10621 relate to door locks. BS3621 relates to mortice and cylinder rim locks in which a key is used on both sides. The lock is secure, as long as there is no key inside it, and cannot be unlocked by breaking a glass panel and reaching inside. BS8621 relates to locks that require a key for entry but not for exit, using a thumb turn mechanism instead of a key upon exit. These locks are suitable for applications where a quick and safe exit is required, without having to look for a key, like in the event of a fire or other emergency. BS10621 relates to locks that can only be locked from the outside. These locks can be opened from the inside without a key and are used where there are multiple points of exit. To check to see if your locks comply with British Standards, you need to look for either of these numbers and their associated kite marks.

When it comes to home insurance, it is absolutely vital to ensure you are aware of the compliance, or lack thereof, of your locks to the British Standards above. Your insurer will ask whether or not all your locks are compliant with British Standard. If, in the case of a claim it transpires that your locks did not comply, it will invalidate both your insurance policy and any claim you may make.

How to Ensure You Get the Best Quote for Your Home Insurance

Now that you know which type of home insurance suits your needs, and what sort of optional extras you might like to add to your policy, it’s time to look at where and how to get the cheapest possible quote for your premium, and what factors will affect the cost of your premium. In this piece, we will briefly take a look at how you can reduce the cost of your home insurance. When searching a new home insurance policy, or for a policy on a new home, your first port of call should be your mortgage provider. While it is not necessarily a certainty, mortgage providers may be able to offer better deals to existing customers. Of course, it’s wise to shop around before committing yourself. However, once you’ve followed the steps outlined in our previous posts on home insurance, there’s no harm in getting a quotation from your mortgage provider.

Another tip that applies to all manner of insurance, be it for your vehicle or home, is to increase your voluntary excess. More often than not, this will reduce the price of your insurance premium proportionately. When it comes to choosing providers for building and contents cover, this can pose a dilemma. Some home insurance providers offer discounts when building and contents cover are combined. In other circumstances, you may save money going with two different providers. Always choose to pay annually, as opposed to monthly, as the administrative charges added to monthly payments will increase the cost of your premium. Finally, try to avoid making small claims against your policy, which could short-change you out of your no-claims discount, and seek to maintain a good no-claims discount (NCD). A NCD could easily save 25% on the price of your premium.