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Nectar card tycoon takes stand against Coutts over AIG advice

Sir Keith Mills, the tycoon behind the Nectar card, has launched an attack at Coutts & Co. after the private bank advised him to keep his AIG savings bonds.

Mills has created couttsaigactiongroup.org in reaction to the advice he was given by the bank, whose customers include the Queen. Mills had invested £160m in the bank, and a “substantial” amount of that was tied up in the AIG-backed bonds, according to the Telegraph.

To back his campaign, Mills has taken out full-page advertisements in today’s national newspapers with his letter outlining his campaign and the reasons behind it.

In his letter, Mills says: “Coutts recommended to me, and I assume many other customers, that I place my money in AIG Life Premier Bonds as a way of protecting my capital. They also said it would be a safe alternative to bank deposits and earn a slightly better interest rate.

“Coutts said my money would be safe as AIG was the largest insurance company in the world, AA rated, and that the bonds provided instant access to my money, just like a deposit account.

“Later, given the negative press reports about the future of AIG, I queried with Coutts, in writing, the safety of keeping my money with AIG, as I assume others did, but they replied that they did not have concerns about these bonds, so I retained them.

“Then, this September, payouts from the bonds were frozen. We try to withdraw our cash now, we face the prospect of losing large sums of money. Or, secondly, we have our money tied up with AIG for three and a half years, with no certainty that our money will ever be returned, and little prospect of earning any additional interest.

“This is why I have set up The Coutts AIG Action Group. To look at how all Coutts customers who have similar grievances against Coutts – regarding holdings of AIG Life Premier Bonds – may be able to hold Coutts to account and obtain fair compensation from them.”

A spokesperson from Coutts & Co. says: “We are confident that the product was sold with the appropriate advice and was compliant with the FSA regulations. At the time of sale it was made clear that the investment was low risk, not risk free and it was explained that the value of the investment could go up as well as down.”

Coutts says it is lobbying AIG on behalf of all its clients affected by this
to negotiate the best outcome for them. It also says it will allow clients access to cash and we will make available a loan facility to borrow up to 100 per cent of the face value of the fund at a competitive rate.

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