Speaker’s Corner 27 Dec 2008
1. Meetings at Hong Lim Park
The first meeting for investors of the credit linked notes was held on 11 October 2008. This was followed by another 9 meetings. The first 8 meetings were held at weekly intervals while the last two meeting was held at fortnightly intervals. Today’s meeting is the 10th and final meeting to be held at Hong Lim Park for the credit linked notes.
You may wonder why Hong Lim Park was chosen to be the venue for the meeting. The most important reason is that it is free and is available at any time. However, it is not quite convenient, due to the lack of facilities. There is no sound system and everyone had to stand. On a few occasions, we had to share the use of the park with other activities. It rained on one meeting.
Still, it is a wonderful experience for us to meet at Hong Lim Park and to get to know each other.
During the past three months, a total of four petitions sent organised, of which three petitions were presented to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
The first petition dated 10 October and signed by 983 people, asked the Government to look into any possible wrong doings by the financial institutions that created and marketed the credit linked notes.
The second petition dated 17 October and signed by 277 people, asked the MAS to investigate the sales training given by the financial institutions to their representatives who sold the credit linked notes.
The fourth petition dated 31 October and signed by 1,073 people, asked the MAS to review the complaint handling process of the financial institutions, to set up an independent unit to receive the complaints and to encourage the financial institutions to adopt a collective approach in offering fair compensation to the investors.
These petitions were presented to the chairman and executive director of MAS and were acknowledged. My requests to meet with the chairman or senior management of MAS were declined. I received replies that any development would be communicated to the public through media releases.
Up to now, we have not received any communication on whether the specific requests contained in the petitions had been considered or implemented.
3. Complaint Handling Process
We have received reports that about 5,000 complaints had been received by the financial institutions that sold the credit linked notes. The MAS had issued a statement that the complaint handling processes of these institutions had generally met their expected standard.
We have not been provided with information on the number of people that have received full or partial compensation for the alleged mis-selling of the product. A small number of the so-called vulnerable investors had been compensated. Although the actual number is not disclosed, this is estimated to account for less than 2 percent of the investors.
The perception of the investors is quite different from the MAS. Many investors found the complaint handling process to be carried out in an unfair and unsatisfactory manner.
The anecdotal reports from any investors are that their complaints of alleged mis-selling were rejected by the financial institutions.
MAS had required the financial institutions to give their decision on each complaint within four weeks. This deadline appeared to have been not met. There are many reports from investors that they had not received any decision after six weeks or longer.
The next step for the investors is to lodge a complaint with the dispute resolution center, called FIDREC. From our survey, a small number of investors had taken this second step to lodge their complaints. Most of the investors intend to take this second step, but the process has been extremely slow and difficult.
4. Collective legal action
Many investors had indicated that they will join in a collective legal action against the financial institutions. It will be correct for me to say, on their behalf, they had taken this decision with great reluctance and difficulty. They would have preferred a more amicable way to get fair compensation for their financial loss.
I like to ask the investors to join the different groups representing the different types of credit linked notes, namely the Minibonds, High Notes, Jubilee Notes and the Pinnacle Notes.
The leaders of these groups will be holding separate meetings next year for the investors. As each group is smaller, it is easier to arrange a more conducive place to hold an indoor meeting.
Each investor group is also setting up a website and an e-mail list to communicate with their members. The key activities of these groups are to educate their members, provide assistance and advice, and to organise the collective legal action.
I shall be in touch with the leaders of these groups and to co-ordinate the activities of the various groups, if required.
5. My blog
I will continue to keep all investors updated through my blog, www.tankinlian.blogspot.com.
I wish to thank a few volunteers who had been providing me with daily updates of news and articles from other sources. I have put the relevant articles in my blog. I encourage the investors to the postings in my blog to keep in touch with the developments.
I am sorry that there was little progress in getting fair compensation for your financial losses, in spite of the great efforts that were put in by many people. We have tried many different approaches, but keep hitting a stone wall – even tough we keep our eyes “wide open”.
During the past three months, we have made many friends from among the investors and volunteers. Let us continue our friendship and continue our efforts to seek fair compensation for the investors, although the future efforts will be done outside of Hong Lim Park.
Let me wish all of you, all the best for 2009.
Tan Kin Lian
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