Dear Mr. Tan,
I am writing to commend you, as many before me had, for the care and bravery you have displayed in giving a much-needed helping hand and direction to thousands of aggrieved investors. I personally have not invested in these investments but unfortunately my homemaker wife have in the above said notes. To be honest, we cannot be said to be in the vulnerable category as defined by the FIs. But neither are we high risk investors, never going beyond stocks, shares and properties.
We take responsibilty for a lapse of care and caution in not fully realising the extent of the risks and toxidity of these notes, partly because the returns do not commensurate these. We also were lulled into comfort of its officialdom and apparent similarity in process to the equity market by the fact that CDP is the official custodian for these notes.
We regretted for not receiving or asking for a risk review by the distributors or a copy of the Prospectus before we signed up for the purchase. For sure the implication of the most damaging and hitherto unfamiliar term of "first-to-default" credit event, in the nature of a total loss on the weakest link, was lost in us and had this been emphasised to us, I am quite certain that the risk-return will not be accepatble to me.
Under this situation, I had not lodged a complaint to the the FI or signed any petition, as I could not with clear conscience alleged no-responsibilty on my part. But I have been following closely what's going on through your website in particular.
I believe there are many aggrieved investors in a similar position as mine. Having absorbed all the comments and opinions by investors, MAS and the senior-level ministers (including the damning comments by MM), the first strong impression is that our authorities is taking us to task on the grounds that we signed the sales documents on our own will and "caveat emptor" applies. Case closed as far as our ministers are concerned.
By doing this, MAS and the authorities are without solid evidence taking sides, in the favour of the FIs. This is unaccepatble coming from a supposedly popularly-elected govt who should a fiduciary responsibilty for the care of its people.
In fact this riles me and spurs me now not to want to call it quits. Why? I don't expect the government to provide financial subsidy for our losses nor to take the sides with the investors just because they are citizens. If we have made a wrong and bad investment decision, we take what comes with it. But it doesn't absolve the FIs from any wrongs they might have committed. Then the most decent thing we should expect from our govt is to embark on an independent investigation to verify if there have been any wrongdoings by the FIs.
We the investors are not in the position in technical and financial capability and authority to conduct this on our own if we deal with the FIs on case by csae basis.
In this respect, an investigation should be addressed at the least the following:
1) design, structure, pricing and comission /fee income of these products,
2) the ill intent and motive of the originators in introducing these products, especially whether there is ill or even fraudulent intent in scheming to lay off to the unknowing public risks embedded in substantially subprime exposures which could be anticipated by the originators to deteriorate in credit quality in short time after the sales
3) the callousness and carelessness of the distributors in the marketing and selling of such complex and risky products to retail investors, and the use of unqualified and poorly trained sales staff to engage in mass selling on a brochure-based mode. A test is whether if the sales staff were in fact well equipped to counsel intending investors adequately on the complexities and high risk nature of the products.
4) whether the marketing brochure was designed with an intent to mislead the investing public on a "No Ask No Tell" approach and focuses on better returns and the strong rating of the reference companies while downplaying on the real toxidities.
Now if an investigation indeed reveals negative revelations against these FIs, then they ought to be taken to task, fined and penalised to compensate investors, as had happened in othe jurisdictions. As you had said before, sharing (rather than taking full) responsibilty and pain with the investors will be satisfying to most investors.
I wonder if you think you will re-focus or redirect the petitioning along this line and if so whether you will talk about it at this Saturday's session at the Speakers Corner.
If you wish to develop this approach further and want me to contact you, please let me know by return email.
The first Petition sent in early October asked the Government to carry out an independent investigation into the possible wrong doings by the financial institutions that created or marketed these credit linked securities, and to take the appropriate action against these financial institutions, including seeking fair compensation for the losses suffered by the affected persons.
I have been disappointed by the lack of information from the Government on this matter, although they appear to be taking some action on behalf of the "vulnerable" investors. The other investors are left to fend on their own to face the financial institutions who are now emboldened by the remarks by our Government leaders.
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