Between 2002 and 2006, AIB sold a series of investments in UK commercial properties, known as the Belfry Funds, which subsequently incurred losses for about 2,500 individual investors.
Following a legal settlement in 2021 with certain investors, AIB reviewed investments in the Belfry Funds on a case by case basis to determine if payments to investors may be due in certain instances.
AIB considered the regulatory requirements at the time (2002-2006), primarily the Code of Conduct for the Investment Business Services of Credit Institutions 2001. The review reassessed the suitability of the Belfry Funds for each investor including:
- checking that the investor’s investment objectives and experience were aligned to investing in the Belfry Funds;
- determining that the risks and the overall risk rating of the Belfry Fund were clear; and
- establishing if the investor’s financial position was aligned to investing in the Belfry Funds.
AIB have conducted the review and, where they have concluded that the Belfry Fund was not suitable for a particular investor, they have provided full repayment of the amount invested as compensation. Where AIB have determined that an error may have been made in the sales process, they are providing a partial repayment of the amount invested as compensation. AIB are making an additional compensation payment to recognise any non-financial effect this may have had on impacted investors. AIB are also making a time value of money compensation payment for investors not having the benefit of the money invested in a Belfry Fund. A payment is also provided to investors towards the cost of any independent professional advice they may wish to seek.
If an investor disagrees with the investment review outcome, AIB have established an internal reassessment process where an investor can share relevant documents to challenge the outcome.
If an investor disagrees with the outcome, an investor can also appeal to an independent appeals panel. An investor may have documents that provide further detail on their investment objectives, investment experience and financial position at the time the investment was made. The appeal may result in a change to the outcome of the case assessment and an additional payment may be made to investors.
The independent appeals panel members are independent from AIB and will comprise:
- a consumer voice representative;
- a legal panel member (a solicitor or barrister); and
- a financial panel member (an accountant).
Any payments already made by AIB are not affected by the outcome of the independent appeals process.
Investors can also make a complaint to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.
Lavelle Partners are currently advising investors in respect of the review of their investments in the Belfry Funds. Please contact Ciarán Leavy, Partner and Head of Commercial Litigation should you wish to discuss the Belfry Funds review. Email: [email protected]