04/07/2012 : WIDENING REPERCUSSIONS OF WORLDSPREADS FAILURE
Directors accused of misleading clients and abusing the market
The furore over the failure of Worldspreads continued to build Saturday with a report in the UK newspaper The Telegraph detailing questionable conduct by the company's directors.
"Directors at collapsed spread-betting group WorldSpreads misled clients into placing bets on the company’s fortunes in order to inflate its share price, it has been claimed," the newspaper reported, explaining that company executives led customers to believe WorldSpreads’ share price would rise and encouraged them to enter into so-called “long bets” on the shares through the company.
This was despite spread-betting firms being prohibited from giving financial advice.
Sources close to the company revealed that WorldSpreads did not force clients to “make good” the losses on these bets when the shares failed to rise.
“This all adds up to the directors looking to support the shares in WorldSpreads through the use of clients – this is clear and simple ‘market abuse’,” one well-placed source pointed out to the Telegraph.
WorldSpreads was placed in administration on March 19 this year after a GBP 13 million deficiency was found in its accounts, putting about 15,000 clients at risk of losing almost half their money.
At the time, administrator KPMG said clients were owed GBP 29.7 million, which should have been held in a segregated customer account, but that the group’s total cash came to just under half that.
Police were called in, and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is understood to be reviewing the issue as part of a wider investigation after complaints from sources close to the company.
The Telegraph report reveals that aggrieved clients have set up the WorldSpreads Action Group for clients with more than GBP 100,000 held at the group, and is exploring legal action against the directors, their insurers and the auditors, Ernst & Young.
More than 80 percent of Worldspreads staff have been made redundant and told they will not receive salary payments owed to them. The group of 52 City workers were told that they will need to apply to the government’s Redundancy Payments Office for compensation, which can take several weeks to pay out.