April 27, 2017

AHRM: now we DO want to talk about Cirrus …

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PEVERELPRICEFIXINGSCANDALWithin hours of Carlex reporting ARHM’s silence over the Peverel / Cirrus price-fixing scandal, we received another email from Paul Silk, chairman of the trade body.

On this occasion, he did address the issue of Cirrus sponsoring last month’s ARHM annual conference.

His full correspondence is below, and includes the justification that the events took place five years ago – Carlex, MPs and media have all expressed their frustration that the OFT took an absurd amount of time to expose Peverel’s conduct.

“Although we do not seek to play down in any way the wrongdoing which took place up until 2009, we do not feel that this should preclude a company from ever offering its services again.”

Mr Silk also addresses the issue of Peverel’s contributions to the ARHM, but in an ambiguous fashion:

“…it would be incorrect to say that the ARHM derives more than 50% of its income from Peverel. We receive our income from a variety of sources such as subscriptions from other members, conferences and training and publications.”

Carlex’s point is that the subscriptions of the Peverel contributions to this trade body are unbalanced … in relation to the subscriptions of the other members.

Comparing Peverel’s funding to all the other income sources is not the point – especially when there is a wide perception that the ARHM is merely Peverel’s stooge.

Regarding the Cirrus scandal, Mr Silk says: “…we are currently working with Peverel to try and secure an outcome to this matter which is fair and reasonable for residents. As such, it wouldn’t be appropriate to try and conjecture what the outcome of this might be were this not to be the case so as not to affect the dialogue we are currently in.”

Carlex responds to this by asking what is the time-scale for the resolution of this issue?

The cheating took place between 2006-2009, and was reported to the police and other authorities.

The OFT accepted the fiction that Peverel reported the collusive tendering in December 2009 – shortly after the scam had been reported in the Times.

The OFT did absolutely NOTHING for 18 months. Then it made inquiries helped by three Carlex whistleblowers who had originally reported the scam.

Last July, the OFT outlined the investigation and made public the appalling decision to grant Peverel leniency from court action. This appalled the three whistleblowers, who the OFT had ordered not to discuss the investigation on threat of prosecution.

Following the direct intervention of the prime minister, Carlex, Ed Davey (the Energy Secretary and LibDem MP for Kingston and Surbiton) and Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative MP for Worthing West) met the OFT director in September 2013.

This was a full and frank meeting, with the two MPs making clear their appalled response to the OFT’s feeble and tardy investigation.

As a result, three days before the Cirrus investigation was published on December 6 last year, a separate inquiry into leasehold management was announced by the OFT.

This is being carried out by the CMA, the OFT’s successor.

Officialdom has badly let down the elderly and vulnerable who were the victims of sustained and systematic cheating by retirement housing’s largest manager.

Given the appalling delays in responding to this – leaving aside the fact that in the end the response was pathetic – it is absolutely not acceptable for Mr Silk and the ARHM board to say that the Cirrus scandal was long in the past and the sector must move on.

It is reasonable that the ARHM gives a time-scale for when it will, or will not, do anything at all regarding this scandal involving its biggest paymaster.

According to the ARHM’s own code:

“The ARHM endeavours to respond to all enquires and keep within published response time.”

How much more time does the ARHM require to deal with this matter?

 

Second ARHM response

Dear Sebastian

Apologies if you receive this twice but I had an error message when sending initially. I would be grateful if you could acknowledge receipt?

Thank you for your further e-mail. Apologies if you do not feel that we have answered all your queries as we have tried to be as open with you as we can bearing in mind that this matter is still ongoing. Although we note that your organisation is also small, we had hoped that this would help you understand the level of resources we have available to attend to such matters, important as they are, whilst maintaining a level of service to our other members who have nothing to do with this issue.

As we have made clear, we are currently working with Peverel to try and secure an outcome to this matter which is fair and reasonable for residents. As such, it wouldn’t be appropriate to try and conjecture what the outcome of this might be were this not to be the case so as not to affect the dialogue we are currently in.

Clearly there is a wider interest in this and we shall make clear the outcome of these discussions once they have concluded. It would, therefore be incorrect to say we have no statement to make as we have made clear the current stage of our enquiry to you and we will make clear the outcomes once our discussions are at an end.

Again we would point out that we have agreed to look at this matter in the interests of residents of Peverel developments rather than simply refusing as the party found guilty was, in fact, Cirrus who are not members of the ARHM.

To answer your other points, firstly, it would be incorrect to say that the ARHM derives more than 50% of its income from Peverel. We receive our income from a variety of sources such as subscriptions from other members, conferences and training and publications.

Secondly, you have questioned whether it was appropriate for Cirrus to sponsor the recent conference. Although we appreciate that there may be some concern regarding Cirrus, they are one of a very few companies which provide equipment which is used in retirement housing developments, the concerns over price fixing relate to activities which took place some 5 years ago and their ownership has changed hands since this time. Although we do not seek to play down in any way the wrongdoing which took place up until 2009, we do not feel that this should preclude a company from ever offering its services again.

Regards

Paul Silk
On behalf of ARHM Board of Directors

Comments

  1. Michael Hollands says:

    Paul Silk, in his letter, more or less confirms that ARHM do not have the resources to deal with major problems, particularly one like the price fixing scandal
    That said it is reassuring to hear that they and Peverel are co.operating to resolve the issue in the interests of the residents. That can only mean some form of compensation and this is long overdue bearing in mind the age of the victims and the time it has taken.
    It is in the interest of both ARHM and Peverel to get this resolved quickly.
    As regards Cirrus, they may not be a member, but ARHM are ready to embrace them and accept their sponsorship money. The fact that the offence happened 5 years ago does not reduce its severity. The new Cirrus, or for that matter the new Peverel , needs to take responsibility and get it sorted.

    • Michael Holland
      The offences did not happen 5 years ago, they stopped five years ago in 2009 when the news media outed Peverel Management Services Ltd and Cirrus Communications who had set up a Cartel and were Price Fixing and Tender Rigging so Cirrus always won the contracts?

      Cirrus and Peverel are not new companies, some of the people may be new, but others who were involved in the Price Fixing had remained?

      The early leaving of Peter Whalley, who we were informed was to leave at the end of July 2014 is welcomed by us?

  2. Michael Epstein says:

    According to Peverel Retirement’s latest figures, they manage 69,399 retirement units.
    According to ARHM’s figures published on their website, members of ARHM manage 105,000 retirement units.. As can be seen by those figures Peverel is totally dominant within the association.

  3. ME,
    The Peverel Retirement website claim to have 1500 developments, that averages out that each development has at least 46 retirement units, per site?

    Two thirds of the ARMH membership are from Peverel Retirement, so no wonder they have failed to take any action?

    The Price Fixing from 2004/05 to 2009/10 was not just the 65 that they owned up too. I believe that we at ABC in Shropshire were Priced Fixed? I have received further information from Peverel Retirement that finally shows, that the collusion was not only the 65, that have been released into the media?

    Remember friends, Cirrus Communications Tender at ABC was on Peverel Management Services headed paper? The totals were not added up correctly and were the same as Glyn Jackson, the Stooge Contractor, but with 15% added to each separate, item costing?

    Other developments have been in touch with me and we will be organising a meeting in the future?

  4. ME
    Also, note that Cardinus the company that Peverel Retirement use as a Fire Risk Assessor also sponsored the meeting?

    I moved into ABC in 2008 after we were Price Fixed, (purchased in December 2006). I have checked with the original register of that time and only 8 flats are the same residents?

    So for Mr Silk to say it happened 5 years ago this is incorrect as it began in 2004/05 and lasted until 2009/10?

    The Price Fixing covered a period of over 5 years, and Peverel Management Services Ltd made £1.4 million and were let off with a slapped wrist?

    Any reply Mr Silk???

    Cirrus/Careline is today thriving, we still pay them for a Management Contract and for Monitoring, I wonder who was monitoring when the Price Fixing was being undertaken, under their nose.

    • Michael Hollands says:

      Chas
      Get your claim into ARHM now so it can be taken into account in their negotiations with Peverel.
      I expect the final offer will be a further lump sum payment to be divided between the affected complexes.
      Make sure that they are aware of what happened where you are, I suspect they will want to put this issue to bed once and for all.

  5. Michael Epstein says:

    Assuming Mr Silk is correct in asserting the “offence” took place 5 years ago, perhaps Mr Silk would like to investigate as to who currently holds the funds that were cheated from residents? Do the residents have it or is the money still sitting in Peverel bank accounts?
    Perhaps £3,000 of it has been donated to the Fire Fighters Charity, in order to give Cirrus/Peverel a veneer of respectability as they bid for social housing contracts?

  6. Michael Epstein says:

    Michael Hollands,
    I expect you are correct about ARHM and Peverel in that a further lump sum payment will be offered to affected developments. The problem is that peverel have only owned up to duping 65 developments, which they have named. What about all the others?

  7. A Reviewer says:

    Hi all

    This is more of a commentary on our society – which the older generation has a hand in shaping by who we elected over the last fifty years ….

    We appear to live in an era where “getting away with it” is NOT a crime until such time as someone SUCCESSFULLY complains. I say CRIME because there is no statue of limitations on WHEN a crime can be identified and someone prosecuted.

    In the area of fraud, which includes fraudulent misrepresentation, such as demonstrating that cirrus were the “best deal” [for peverel rather than the people paying the charges], there is an overlap with civil justice. Fraud is criminal whereas fraudulent misrepresentation is a civil justice matter.

    HOWEVER, without several million pounds which the ordinary person simply does not have, and even a large group of people cannot risk just in case it all goes belly up, a court case cannot be contemplated so the perpetrator of a fraudulent misrepresentation is likely to be able to get away with it – viz not get sued in the courts.

    So we have the Office of Fair Trading to protect ordinary people. Simply put, the OFT has failed the ordinary people it was set up to protect.

    Most trade bodies are designed to protect their members and keep outsiders out. AHRM and ARMA have failed despite trying to change their colors.

    But what is appalling is the COVER UP, and today in Westminster we have the cover up [independent investigation – but who can you trust] of the cover up of the reported disappearance of files [a cover up] of a criminal offence.

    Cover ups are now a permanent part of life, and it seems to me that a very substantial number of public employees are involved in either investigating cover ups or covering up cover ups.

    All of this is a total waste of time and effort when IF there existed an OFT-like with the necessary mettle to sort what are obvious [to ordinary people] mis-carriages of justice all these things would be sorted out.

    ASo who do you elect – Salmon has promised that a independent scotland would not have airport charges – is that a reason to vote for independence ? and airports have operational costs … a load of nonsense which typically explains why we have the had the wrong politicians for so long, and why the “old people” generally live so well …. free this that and the other. National Insurance is now a right not an insurance scheme for the unfortunate in life.

    Happy Thoughts …. on what might have been.