I confess to taking vicarious pleasure in reading about troubles at Coutts & Co. So I have been doing handstands (metaphorically) while reading the recent press coverage about Sir Keith Mills and his problems with Coutts. Sir Keith is described by
The Times as "the tycoon behind Nectar loyalty cards [and] a major cheerleader in London's successful bid for the 2012 Olympics."
He's even taken a page from my book and has started a website of his own --- one that would not be making the folks in The Strand very happy. Sir Keith's website has the much more businesslike title of The Coutts AIG Action Group, and you can visit it by clicking here.
Sir Keith has published an open letter to Coutts customers:
19th December 2008
Dear fellow Coutts customer,
you are a Coutts customer and, like me, have been caught up in the
problems with AIG Life Premier Bonds, I would like to draw your
attention to a new website, the address of which is below.
I have set this website up to bring together Coutts customers in a combined action against Coutts & Co.
This is the reason why.
recommended to me, and I assume many other customers, that I place my
money in AIG Life Premier Bonds as a way of protecting my capital. They
also said it would be a safe alternative to bank deposits and earn a
slightly better interest rate.
Coutts said my money
would be safe as AIG was the largest insurance company in the world, AA
rated, and that the bonds provided instant access to my money, just
like a deposit account.
Later, given the negative press
reports about the future of AIG, I queried with Coutts, in writing, the
safety of keeping my money with AIG, as I assume others did, but they
replied that they did not have concerns about these bonds, so I
Then, this September, payouts from the bonds were frozen.
Bondholders now have been forced to accept two choices.
if we try to withdraw our cash now, we face the prospect of losing
large sums of money. Or, secondly, we have our money tied up with AIG
for three and a half years, with no certainty that our money will ever
be returned, and little prospect of earning any additional interest.
is why I have set up The Coutts AIG Action Group. To look at how all
Coutts customers who have similar grievances against Coutts - regarding
holdings of AIG Life Premier Bonds - may be able to hold Coutts to
account and obtain fair compensation from them.
I urge you to visit the website - your information will be kept confidential.
Sir Keith Mills
The Times says Sir Keith's "claim raises the politically charged prospect of some of the wealthiest
people in the country applying for compensation from an organisation owned
by Royal Bank of Scotland and therefore underwritten by taxpayers.
"Coutts last night emphatically denied that it had mis-sold the bonds, AIG Life
Premier Bonds, and said that it had made plain to Sir Keith and other
customers that the bonds, though low-risk, were not risk-free.
"Coutts, according to Sir Keith, recommended that he buy the bonds as a safe
alternative to bank deposits and allegedly told him that it had no concerns,
even after AIG started to receive negative publicity.
"Bondholders’ money was frozen in September as investors rushed to redeem their
money in the wake of AIG’s well-publicised problems in America. Those
attempting to take out their money now face losses of about 13½p in the
"AIG, once the world’s biggest insurer, was sunk by huge losses on credit
insurance and in September was bailed out by the American Government with an
$85 billion credit facility. It is now 80 per cent state-owned."
Sir Keith's e-mail address is as follows:email@example.com