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Opinion: Alistair Greig case regulators couldn’t be bothered to watch a 20-minute video? It’s time they changed their tune

The FCA must refund that £2m to the victims. Because they only lost that money due the FSA’s failings.  

Investigative Dale Haslam in front of headlines from newspapers about Alistair Greig.
Investigative reporter Dale Haslam. Image: DC Thomson.

I write about fraud often – and the stories can be crazy.

Tales of men waiting at airport arrivals for their ‘future wife’ who turns out to be a no show….and a gangster from far off lands.

Tales of cryptocurrency victims conned out of millions and sextortion victims persuaded to pay fees to cartels so embarrassing videos aren’t sent to their loved ones.

What all those things have in common is that, in some way, the victims have fallen into a trap.

I’m not saying they are entirely to blame – the operators who snare them are smooth – but there is always an element of hindsight.

“I should have seen the signs.”

That is where the Midas scheme is different.

Greig even conned his own wife

Absolutely none of Alistair Greig’s 184 victims could have had any idea he was a con artist.

Even his now-estranged wife Judi, who has helped the victims immensely, had no clue and neither did his colleagues.

For Greig had spent 20 years making a name for himself as a tried-and-trusted financial advisor.

He had all the qualifications, all the experience, all the know how.

Alistair Greig was jailed for 10 years for fraud. Image: DC Thomson.

Greig even appeared in the Press and Journal several times, with nobody raising any kind of suspicion about his reputation.

And, strangely, when one of his associates was outed as a fraudster, Greig told his inner circle how disgusted he was that someone could do that.

A crime that shocked the whole region

So when Greig’s £13m Ponzi scheme was revealed in 2014, it shocked everyone. His wife, his family, his colleagues – the entire north-east.

The 184 victims were rightfully compensated but there are major flaws.

First, there was an £85,000 cap, so many victims are still out of pocket.

Second, that compensation only came about due to the bold actions of 91 victims who forked out £2 million for legal proceedings.

So we have 91 families who are massively out pocket.

Mabel and John Stewart lost £200,000 to Greig’s fraud and there were 182 other victims. Picture: DC Thomson.

These are people who have lost life savings, retirement funds, mortgage deposits. We’re talking families losing up to £400,000 each.

Victims could no longer afford to move

We’ve heard today from a dad who was heartbroken that the money he had set aside for his daughter’s mortgage deposit was taken by Alistair Greig.

Another couple planned to move abroad because one of them had cancer – and those dreams too were scuppered, so they had to abandon retirement plans because of the fraud.

We have regulatory bodies in place to protect us.

The general public can’t be expected to know every word of every law, so these bodies steer us right.

People only lost out due to regulators

And in this case, the Financial Services Authority failed to do that three times, despite being given enough evidence to stop Greig from conning 183 of his 184 victims.

A watchdog was scathing about the FSA’s failings and compelled its successor organisation, the Financial Conduct Authority, to apologise in writing to Greig’s victims.

But that is not enough.

The FCA must refund that £2m to the victims. Because they only lost that money due the FSA’s failings.

They must also fully compensate Greig’s victims for their losses, above the existing £85,000 cap.

Fat cats’ no-show at meeting

Last week, Shetland and Orkney MP Alistair Carmichael invited the FCA to watch a video about the issue at the House of Commons on Wednesday evening.

A smiling man in a suit and tie.
Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael organised Wednesday’s event. Image: Shutterstock

All he asked is they show up and listen for 20 minutes.

Their reply? “We’ve nothing to add”.

The taxpayer-funded body couldn’t be bothered to show up – an organisation whose chief executive Nikhil Rathi is paid £455,000 a year.

The FCA has made big changes in the last decade and I don’t doubt that their apology was sincere.

But actions speak louder than words.

Things did finally change

The victims have told me that this scandal has ruined lives.

People have died due to illnesses brought on by the stress they suffered due to Greig.

Others have suffered heart attacks, strokes and mental-health problems.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak intervened in the Horizon Scandal – and campaigners believe it shows it can happen to with the Midas fraud. Image: PA Wire

There are so many parallels with the Post Office Horizon scandal where dozens of people were wronged through no fault of their own.

They were told for years that nothing could be done for them because ‘the system is the way it is’.

And then, as we saw earlier this year, things did finally change.

The Prime Minister stood up, spoke and justice was done.

It shows that all that is needed for change to come is the political will.

Now, it’s time for those at Westminster – and at FCA HQ – to do the same for Alistair Greig’s victims.