Mills, the founder of the Air Miles and Nectar loyalty programmes, has paid for the campaign to show how Coutts told him that it was not concerned with any risk to investors such as him from AIG Life Enhanced Fund bonds.
On Coutts’ advice, in December 2007 Mills purchased £65m of AIG Life’s Premier Bonds backed by its Enhanced Fund, which were recommended by Coutts as a low-risk, easy-access investment and an alternative to bank and building society deposits.
The advertisements are placed on billboards at prominent locations around Charing Cross station and escalator panels at Embankment tube station, a short walk from the Coutts head office. The campaign starts today for two weeks, and run continuously with adverts in the national press.
Barlow Lyde & Gilbert has commenced legal action against Coutts for Mills by issuing the first steps before negligence proceedings. Mills alleges that the negligence was compounded in March 2008 when he contacted Coutts to express concerns about AIG – but was told that Coutts was “still not concerned with any risk to investors such as yourself”. Coutts has so far denied the allegations of negligence.
Mills says: “These adverts will ensure that my grievance is writ large along escalators and across billboards. They will bring my complaint against the bank to the attention not just of new Coutts chief executive Michael Morley but also to that of every employee walking into work. I hope to shame him and the bank he now heads into standing behind customers who have lost out.”
Mills has set up a website, www.couttsaigactiongroup.org for other Coutts customers who were advised to buy AIG Life Premier bonds.