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Stubborn Asp is baffling advisers

The Asp mess continues to get messier. IFAs can do the bidding of the Treasury and avoid being called nasty tax-avoidance advisers by not recommending Asps.

That is unless they have a huge bank of Plymouth Brethren on their books, in which case it is plain sailing.

But for clients of other religions or none, by obeying Treasury Chief Secretary Ed Balls, they may be breaking the law by discriminating and not providing best advice.

Even the Government cannot put its views into legislation or it could breach those self-same laws. Now the FSA website says investors should consider remarks made by Balls – words that are about as clear as edicts that used to emerge from Brezhnev’s Kremlin.

The FSA website linked to a consumer-facing Government site says scheme members should take into account Balls’ remarks about Asps being intended only for a few people with religious objections.

To which we say, how so? What on earth does take into account mean? The FSA site declines to say. Pay heed and ignore Balls or obey him and effectively lose certain rights about religious freedom. Why on Earth should anyone do that?

Here is a question for the FSA and, indeed, for the Government. Should advisers obey the Government and break the law or obey the law and ignore the Government? Should investors take up their right not to be discriminated against on grounds of religion or ignore the Asp option?

Isn’t it about time someone sorted out this mess?

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