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Families in last-ditch appeal for justice after falling victim to Alistair Greig’s £13m Ponzi fraud

Alistair Greig blew the cash on a Champagne lifestyle. His victims meanwhile suffered tremendously. Some died while others battled serious physical and mental illness.

Two men - Alistair Greig and one of his victims, Colin Stewart, side by side and a FCA sign in the background
Fraudster Alistair Greig and campaigner for his victims, Colin Stewart. Image: Dale Haslam/DCT Media

Dozens of families left devastated by a conman have made a last-ditch plea for justice in what is being dubbed the north-east’s version of the Post Office scandal.

Alistair Greig was a respected financial advisor for decades before going rogue and duping 184 north-east victims out of £13 million.

The scammer blew the cash on a Champagne lifestyle, taking pals on holiday and attending VIP boxes at Royal Ascot.

His victims meanwhile suffered tremendously.

Some died while others battled serious physical and mental illness as well as embarrassment within their close-knit communities.

In new accounts that we can now reveal, one couple described how Greig even invited them to his wedding in a twisted effort to win their trust.

Missed cheque while on holiday

Another victim has revealed he missed out on a £40,000 refund because he was on holiday when Greig’s panicked colleagues sent out cheques as his scheme collapsed.

Greig was eventually caught and jailed for 10 years – but we discovered regulators missed three golden chances to stop him earlier.

Alistair Greig
Alistair Greig. Image: DC Thomson

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has apologised to the victims – but refuses to refund their £2 million legal costs.

In a last shot at justice, Shetland and Orkney MP Alistair Carmichael arranged a campaign event at the House of Commons in London last Wednesday and invited the FCA to attend.

But the FCA snubbed the victims and told organisers: “We have nothing to add.”

‘This is our Horizon scandal’

One victim, who asked not to be named, said: “People died over this. Some had strokes.

“Some lost life savings while having chemotherapy. It’s astounding that it’s still not been sorted.

“Both my close relative and I lost a lot of money. And the regulator has deeply let us down.

“This is our Horizon scandal. If Rishi Sunak can stand up and sort that out in one speech, why can’t the FCA change its turn as well?”

Among those present were the P&J, campaigners, north-east MPs – and even Greig’s now-estranged wife Judi Greig, who he also duped.

Colin Stewart wants justice for the Midas victims: Image: DC Thomson.

Colin Stewart, whose parents were conned out of more than £250,000 said: “We’ve been told time and again the answer is ‘no’.

“But that’s exactly what happened with the Post Office Horizon scandal – until the answer became ‘yes’.

Money spent on trips to the Monaco Grand Prix

“Convictions were quashed and compensation is promised.

“It shows it can be done. It just needs the political will.’

Greig worked for a finance firm called Park Row Associates for years and was a legitimate businessman.

He then formed Midas in 2006 and it operated from an office on Little Belmont Street, Aberdeen.

The company would offer mortgages, pensions and other products.

Greig encouraged customers to invest savings into his own scheme, which he claimed was backed by the Royal Bank of Scotland, when it was not.

The property on Little Belmont Street, Aberdeen where Alistair Greig’s company used to be based. Image: Darrell Benns/ DC Thomson

People would be persuaded to invest by their family and friends, who had known Greig for years, or by business associates they had trusted dealt with for decades.

Personal slush fund

Always looking the part and driving a fancy car, Greig promised his clients big but plausible interest rates.

Clients kept funds in Greig’s scheme for six months then rolled them over.

Clients thought their funds were building up interest – but the reality was far more sinister.

Greig was channelling their money into a personal slush fund and spending it on holidays, classic cars and trips to the Monaco Grand Prix.

Three missed chances

Like any Ponzi scheme, it only failed when new investors dried up so Greig couldn’t keep paying people back.

That was in 2014 – but the FSA missed three chances to catch Greig before that.

The first of those was in 2008 at which point there was just one victim.

Shetland and Orkney MP Alistair Carmichael, who organised the campaign event on behalf of victims. Image: Shutterstock

A company alerted the FSA to a serious accusation against Greig.

That should have forced the regulator into action. But it did nothing.

Mr Carmichael said: “It’s clear as daylight that, had the FSA performed its duties then, there would have been no more victims.

“That would have spared 183 north-east families from a decade of misery, lost savings and devastation.”

‘Two significant errors’

The FSA ignored two more warning signs in 2012.

One of those occurred when whistleblower Richard Evans, of Banff-based Structured Financial Planning, emailed to warn of Greig’s activities.

The FSA sent the email to the wrong department and never followed it up.
Investigating, the Financial Services Complaints Commissioner Antony Townsend described the FSA’s lost email as “a judgement which was not defensible.”

The Palace of Westminster, which hosted the campaign event last Wednesday. Image: Shutterstock.

Mr Townsend added: “The FSA did not intervene on three occasions: the first was a consequence of its policies, and I cannot consider that further.

“But the second and third were in one case a deliberate decision not to investigate further and in the other an administrative error.

“There is no question that the two errors were significant ones.”

In the end, the 180 victims were partly compensated, receiving up to £85,000 each from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

But that did not happen because of the regulators.

Families still £2 million out of pocket

It only happened because 91 of the Midas victims took civil court action and a judge defined Greig’s actions as ‘an investment fraud’ – making it valid for compensation.

However, those 91 families paid a total of £2 million in legal costs and are still out of pocket.

Richard Thomson
Gordon MP Richard Thomson, who attended Wednesday’s event on behalf of constituents who were conned by Alistair Greig. Image: Supplied

Gordon MP Richard Thomson, who attended Wednesday’s Westminster event, said: “Within the FCA’s predecessor, the FSA, the ball was dropped entirely to stop Greig.

“There were at least three opportunities to stop him and it didn’t happen and it seems to me the families involved have been failed terribly by the regulatory environment that out to be there to protect them.

“Nobody here was reckless or greedy. They were let down by one individual and by the regulator.”

Mr Thomson, Mr Carmichael and Angus MP David Doogan called on the FCA to do the right thing and compensate victims.

They said they would discuss future options for the campaign, including possible Westminster and Holyrood debates.

‘It wouldn’t be appropriate to cover fees’

An FCA spokesperson said: “We understand the distress suffered by those caught up in the fraudulent actions of Alistair Greig.

“We have apologised to those affected by the fraud for the fact that our predecessor organisation did not act more quickly at the time and we have worked to recover money for investors.

“The case has been considered by the Financial Regulators’ Complaints Commissioner who determined that it would not be appropriate for the FCA to pay any form of compensation and it would not be appropriate for us to cover the legal fees for a case we were not directly involved in.

“We appreciate that this may be frustrating for investors.  We take our accountability to Parliament seriously but in this instance we have clearly set out our final position.”

Read King of the Swindlers – our full investigation into Greig’s crimes – here.