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A Zifa consultant and a tale of woe

Our Zifa consultant brought to our attention a “fully investigated, capital protected fund” via Imperial Consolidated.

This fund guaranteed a 15 per cent return in year one. Further, the plan benefited from “policyholder protection”.

Given the excellent terms on offer I decided to invest in the fund myself. I rebated all the commission back into the fund via Allied Dunbar to make it a clean contract and penalty-free should I wish to pull out after one year.

Having invested, I then received further information.It transpired that there was no investor protection. When I queried this with the Zifa consultant, she apologised that she had given us “false information”.

I was unable to cancel the plan as the 14-day cooling-off period had expired.

Given the circumstances, I decided to leave the fund untouched for one year as I was “guaranteed” 15 per cent and could then withdraw from the fund without notice or penalty.

I requested a valuation on numerous occasions in January 2002 but was unable to obtain this from Zifa/Allied Dunbar. Alarmed, I decided to terminate the investment.

The encashment process started in February but after various phone calls and letters promising me the money within a certain timescale there was still no sign of my cash.

After numerous letters of complaint with regard to the “misselling” of the product,I have been advised by Zurich Financial Services legal department that I should have investigated the fund more fully myself.

I was also advised that their Zifa consultant did not sell me anything and merely introduced this fund to us as part of her broker consultant role.

Further, as the Imperial Consolidated fund is an offshore investment, I was told the fund was marketed by Zifa (not “sold”) – even though all the information received by us was on Zifa headed paper.

It was Zifa who reassured us, as the broker, that this fund represented a suitable investment for our clients.

Zifa seems to be suggesting that their messengers carry no responsibility or duty of care when pushing certain funds. This is a decision we will seek to challenge via the regulators both in the Isle of Man and in the UK.

Trevor Hurley

Hurley Financial Services, Edinburgh

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