Are we finally turning the pages of the final chapter of the Equitable Life saga? You have to hope so for the sake of the many investors who have struggled along for so many years waiting for someone to admit they got it wrong, very wrong.
Incompetent management that tried to dishonestly duck out of the promises the company made to policyholders was allowed by negligent regulators to destroy a company that was once a mainstay of the life assurance market. The management has been firmly nailed for its part in the fiasco of hyped up promises and unrealistic returns but they have no money to compensate the people who trusted them with their money. The regulator at the time was the old Department of Trade and Industry, later the Treasury, so it has been to government that the investors have looked for compensation: so far, it has callously stonewalled every attempt to persuade it that it has a moral duty to compensate those who have lost out. It is almost as if it hopes the battle will drag on long enough that the annuity holders most affected by the collapse will have died out before it has to do anything.
Unfortunately, it is hard to see anything changing despite the damming report from the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Gordon Brown as Chancellor wouldn't listen to their pleas so he is hardly likely to change his tune as Prime Minister at a time when there is very little spare public money to be had. He has probably made the cynical calculation that most of the people who lost out were home counties Tory voters so there is no political gain in helping them out. On that he is probably right as very few Labour MPs have ever been exercised by the demise of Equitable Life.
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