June 24, 2017

Bottomley: ‘possible criminal behaviour involving Peverel’ over tendering scams

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TimesbannisterNov7Articles in The Times in 2009 also show Carlex had publicly raised the issue of Cirrus’s tendering scams before Peverel turned itself in

 

Sir Peter Bottomley has waded into the Peverel price-fixing scandal by publicly doubting whether the company had “confessed” to the Office of Fair Trading before being alerted by the three Carlex whistleblowers.

He also wants to know whether any public body was aware of “possible unlawful or criminal behavior involving Peverel”.

The three Carlex whistleblowers – who include Susan Wood, Ken Kilmister and a third activist who prefers to remain nameless – contacted the OFT in January 2010, but the OFT is claiming that Peverel turned itself in the month before, in December 2009.

In an email to Carlex yesterday afternoon Ms Yael Shine, the team leader of the OFT investigation, states: “I understand that you have approach Peverel to ask when Peverel first reported the matter to the OFT. I can confirm that Peverel reported this matter to the OFT in December 2009, prior to any complaint being received by the OFT.”

This was immediately passed to Sir Peter Bottomley who replied in a statement to Carlex / LKP:

“What matters is who lost, who knew and who dominated this disgrace.

“It is vital to establish exactly when and in what circumstances the Serious Fraud Office, Trading Standards and the OFT first knew of allegations of possible unlawful or criminal behaviour involving Peverel.

“Unless the SFO, Trading Standards and OFT were alerted by Peverel before any public organisation had any indication of wrong-doing, it cannot be right to offer four years later immunity from penalty or from prosecution.

“I doubt whether the first Peverel confession does, in fact, pre-date the Carlex whistleblowers or others contacting the SFO, Trading Standards or the OFT.

“Pensioners in retirement leasehold will be in despair if those who have cheated them for years are to be treated leniently. After such a protracted investigation, they have the right to expect restitution of defrauded funds and court action.

“Peverel have been dominant in this field. Provisions that might be appropriate when a minnow blows the whistle on major collaborating competitors cannot be right when the whale asks for leniency.”

The OFT’s fantasy that Peverel, out of an uncharacteristic sense of civic duty, turned itself in is debunked by media coverage of Carlex in late 2009.

TimesSept252009On September 26 2009, The Times journalist James Charles reported that the OFT had been swamped by complaints from pensioners living in retirement leasehold:

“It [the OFT] is investigating the industry after being inundated with complaints from residents who are appalled at the way that they are treated.”

TimesNov72009On November 7 2009, The Times reported a meeting at the Commons of more than 100 Carlex supporters, hosted by Ed Davey, LibDem MP for Kingston and Surbiton and now the Energy Secretary.

Davey is quoted in the article: “After meeting the Consensus Business Group [the Tchenguiz group that then owned Peverel] it seems to me that it knows that it is overcharging residents but it will not reduce the charges unless it is challenged. I find that approach outrageous.”

He urged the “monopolistic” group to be broken up, and added in a specific reference to the OFT:

“The OFT is considering a wider investigation into the residential home market and I believe that it should consider breaking up this cartel to increase competition.”

Cirrus, the warden call and door entry provider at the centre of the price-fixing scandal, was mentioned extensively in the article.

Nigel Bannister, the then chief executive of Peverel, rejected claims that the company awarded contracts to companies within the group.

“People are reading a conspiracy into a problem that isn’t there. We use Cirrus because it is an excellent service,” Bannister is quoted as saying.

TimesDec42009Most damning of all to the OFT’s argument that Peverel turned itself in is the article of December 4 2009 in The Times.

Briefed by Carlex, it addressed contracts awarded to Cirrus.

“Carlex, the Campaign Against Retirement Leasehold Exploitation, has identified a number of developments where vulnerable residents were told of the need to upgrade their warden-call and door-entry systems but were given little choice over what the work would involve or who would do it.”

It continues: “In Heather Court, in Chichester, Sussex, and Chislet Court, Herne Bay, and Roman Court, Edenbridge, both in Kent, only two companies produced a tender for the work: Cirrus and Glyn Jackson Communications.”

Glyn Jackson Communications, which went into liquidation in June 2012 (its directors were Glyn Jackson and Jayne Michelle Jackson), is one of the three companies involved in sham tendering processes which always revealed Cirrus to be cheaper, according to the OFT.

The Times reported the case of Gibson Court in Esher, Surrey where residents were told that they would have to pay about £39,000 for a new system.

“Marina Golding [a Carlex activist], who owns a flat in the development that is used by her mother, was at a meeting in which residents were told of two quotes, one from Glyn Jackson for £41,000 and one from Cirrus for £38,973.

“Mrs Golding was shocked at the huge bill quoted by Peverel and contacted another company to get an estimate for the work. Delta Communication Ltd carried out an onsite inspection and quoted her a price of £17,000 to upgrade the system in Gibson Court, more than £20,000 cheaper than the cost quoted by Cirrus.”

Although the OFT states that Peverel owned up to price-fixing in December 2009, it was not co-operative with The Times.

“Peverel refused to explain why Glyn Jackson was asked to quote in every case.”

COMMENT

The OFT’s argument that Peverel should be immune from the consequences of its fiddling because it may have contacted the OFT in December 2009 after a series of high-level exposures in the media is utterly contemptible.

It needs to explain why it is airing this fiction and – equally important – why it has taken four years to deal with this inquiry.

Questions need to be asked of the OFT at the highest level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. We should be asking the banks such as RBOS to distance themselves from Peverel and other freehold companies which engage in ripping off leaseholders. RBOS is supported 90% by Government and needs to get its capital adequacy ratio up. It does not make sense for RBOS to finance loans to companies like Peverel .

    • Ollie,
      Well said, Ollie, its good to know that we are not alone, we had Cirrus replace our Warden Call Line System. Peverel informed us it was hit by lightening and the system was obsolete and could not be repaired, (I no longer believe what Peverel say.)

      There was another company that tendered, guess who it was, YES Glyn Jackson, this is the other company who was accused of falsifying tenders so that Cirrus was awarded the contract. We were charged over £20,00.00 for the updating and I have asked for the invoices and all the other paper trail leading up to the contract being awarded.

      We as residents did not notice any changes from the previous call Line and of course we trusted Peverel (how wrong were were) I have recently checked all the previous Expenses Files and noted that there was no invoices at all for the updating of the Warden Call Line System.

      Peverel try to hide their short comings and rely on the Area Manager to muddle through and as the front line they take the stick.
      Chas

      • The Area Managers are complicit in the price fixing scandal; they know exactly what goes on. There was also the Cardinus hugely inflated building valuation done here by a bogus surveyor based on false floor space measurements on behalf of Kingsborough… Peverel is corrupt from top to bottom in every area of their business.

        • Fleeced,
          I note what you say, and that Cirrus/Peverel/Glyn Jackson have been named in this scandal.
          What makes it worse is the times these Senior Managers have stated that Peverel is whiter than white and as our Area Manager keeps telling me ” I do not tell lies” which is a lie in its self.

          I have checked the works carried out by another contractor who had tendered for work to do Fire Risk Assessments, you guessed, Cardinus, they were awarded the contract by winning the Tender.
          We do not know who was also included in the Tendering Process, I wonder if it was Cirrus and Glyn Jackson.

          They noted that we have 14 roof spaces and Cardinus inspected only 10 of the 14 roof spaces.The Fire Assessments were not required as it shows that 95% of the forms filled in are N/A.There is no communal area.in any of the flats. The Fire Risk Assessment was a cover for the Valuation that was also undertaken by Cardinus and again we were not informed that a valuation was to be undertaken, so much for Janet Entwistle and her Transparency and Openness.

          Have you noticed that since 2009 the change in the attitude of Peverel Group, where they decided to stop using Peverel Employees to oversee contracts. Our Area Manager wrote to us in 2009 stating that they realised the economic situation and would try hard to reduce Service Charges. They had introduced a 10% levy on contracts only to inform us that this was to be abolished and that Peverel would help us by saving money. Peverel also stated that they would only increase Management Fees by 2% in future.

          So what did they do, YES they then increased the average Management Fee by over 3.5%. so much for honesty. They then introduced Aedas who they paid, THAT’S RIGHT the 10% they stated that they were no longer charging.

          To come back to Cardinus the Fire Risk Assessment is designed for communal areas and was never intended for houses that had a flat on the ground floor and a flat above. So we have a two storey house and where are any of the communal areas that would have been surveyed under the Fire Regulations

          Area Manager Roger Cooper stated that the roof spaces where communal areas and should not be used for storage?? Yet the Estate Agents make a great deal of the storage areas including Peverel Homesearch.
          What a farce, any other resident know of similar anomalies.
          Chas

          • Re your replacement system Chas. If this was struck by lightening why wasn’t the cost covered on insurance?

          • “I have checked the works carried out by another contractor who had tendered for work to do Fire Risk Assessments, you guessed, Cardinus, they were awarded the contract by winning the Tender.”

            I only found out about Cardinus by chance when I was looking for the previous Barrett Corp Harrington/surveyors building valuation document that was normally kept in the Peverel box file here in the library and found it missing. I contacted Janet Entwhistle to ask where the BCH document had gone and I then received this explanation from Peter Stevens/Senior Area Manager in a letter dated 31 January 2013:

            “I have been passed a copy of your email dated 22 January 2013 to provide a reply to your question about the Barrett Corp Harrington Valuation document dated 1 September 2008, which you state is missing from the development guide that is kept in the Owners Lounge.
            The reason for this document being missing from the development guide is that a new revaluation for reinstatement cost for insurance was carried out on the 15 May 2012 by a company called Cardinus.”…

            Yes, but why were we never told about about the “new revaluation” done on 15 May 2012? All this was done behind the backs of the leaseholders (not ‘Owners’). Peverel had no intention of telling us and placing the new Cardinus revaluation document with the bogus named surveyor on it in the file. This is insurance fraud and Peverel should be prosecuted for such behaviour.

      • Ollie and Friends,
        Please bear with me over this comment as it is long.

        I have looked again at the Warden Call System that we had to have replaced in 2007/08 (according to Roger Cooper Area Manager for Ashbrook Court in Church Stretton.) Roger Cooper works for Peverel Management Services Ltd, he stated on the 05/09/2007 that:
        “Residents are aware that the warden call system is obsolete and has been for some time. During July 2007 the system was struck by lightening and could not be repaired as the parts are no longer available.”

        From earlier letters from Roger Cooper dated the 28/06/07 we were informed that the lightening strike had happened the previous week, Roger Cooper informed us that:
        “Cirrus the alarm company, spent time trying to repair the system by changing the boards in the control panel but it has been identified that some of the boards are un-repairable?

        Mr Cooper mentioned at a budget meeting last year (2006) that he had advised the residents that the equipment was obsolete, but could be maintained at the moment but in the future it would have to be replaced?

        I have asked for minutes of this meeting which took place in 2009 when the Insurance Claim was paid out, and why we were not entitled to the Surplus as the rules stated, instead Roger Cooper placed the money in the contingency fund and that was that, (no minutes were ever supplied.) ?

        Mr Cooper went on to say on 27/06/07, “Our Building Department are urgently obtaining quotations for a replacement system. “In view of the emergency, it is hoped part of the consultation period can be revoked.

        On the 10/10/07 Graham Robinson Technical Manager wrote to us stating that “We have now obtained quotations/tenders in respect of the works to be carried out. We have selected at least two estimates from which to make the final choice of contractor as follows, (guess who the contractors were,) YES

        1. Cirrus £21446.10
        2. Glyn Jackson £25501.24

        Graham Robinson states ” As part of the upgrade the following costs of supplying telephone lines and line rental will be as follows; ( one off payment, line rentals, monthly charges and 2 one off charges)???

        I have studied these letters from Roger Cooper and Graham Robinson and I now find them to relate to a
        Warden Call Upgrade not a Warden Call Replacement as we were informed would happen?

        In a letter from Roger Cooper (Estate Manager) 05/09/07 he states:
        Until the new system is installed, the residents will still have the use of the lifeline phones which link the property, via the pendant and phone, to the control center?

        I am wondering what really happened and were we set up for the Upgrade by Peverel and Cirrus with out us knowing?

        Some thing strange happened on the 10/10/07, we received two identical letters relating to the Warden Call Upgrade from Graham Robinson, one was from Peverel Management Services and the other from Peverel Retirement??????

        Chas

  2. Please could someone inform me which Minister in the Government should be responsible for all this fiasco or does the trail go back to Mr. Mark Prisk? Plus who is the shadow minister also who should be complaining about all the mass abuses of power to the detriment of leaseholders?

  3. Insider
    Sorry, the message was not as clear as I had hoped. A claim was made and we received a figure of over £20,000.00 which was well received. I wonder what the insurance company (not sure who it was but we do deal with Kingsborough, Oval and Zurich) will be doing now that Peverel has allegedly admitted to Price Fixing.

    The two companies that tendered for the works at Ashbrook Court were CIRRUS and GLYN JACKSON no surprise there.
    Chas

  4. The Banks were fined for LIBOR fixing and they include Barclays fined £290 Mil, RBS fined £390Mil and UBS fined US$1.5Bil and Lloyds TBA.( not yet settled) .

    The Peverel price fixing scandal should be dealt by the SFO under the Fraud Act 2006 and not by OFT and all of the directors involved at these companies should be disqualified as company directors for the next 20 years. So send your complaint letters to Companies House via your local MP.

    Since RBS themselves have been fined for Libor fixing, they should not be allowed to finance Peverel Group. Last year RBS loaned £25 Mil to Chamonix and Electra Partners to take Peverel out of Administration. RBS is 89% owned by the UK Government and it makes no sense to use tax payers money to fund the operation of businesses engaged in price fixing.

    So send your complaint letter to the CEO, Financial Conduct Authority for investigation via your local MP

  5. Michael Epstein says:

    Ollie,
    Peverel was valued at £50m when it was bought out of administration.(the often quoted £62m included £12m cash in hand) RBS (who own Nat West) financed £25m towards the purchase. Nat West agreed an overdraft of a further (i believe) of around £2m. Shortly afterwards after an extensive investigation carried out by Peverel and “purely in the interests of residents” it was found that Nat West (at the very time the Nat West computer systems were crashing, leaving customers with no money) offered a far better service than HBOS, so the service charge accounts were transferred to RBS/Nat West.
    However, We now know that at the time of the buyout the OFT were conducting an investigation into price fixing. If they are to be believed, Peverel reported themselves to the OFT in December 2009.
    The questions that must be asked. Were RBS aware of the OFT investigation when they granted Peverel the £25m loan? Did Peverel disclose the OFT investigation to RBS?
    The latest Peverel accounts show a provision of £7.9m to resolve customer disputes. Is this for current disputes(as implied as Peverel say they “will defend all resident claims with vigour”?)
    Is the £7.9m to resolve the price fixing scandal?
    Either way, it must be the case that within a year of a buyout another £7.9 m that Peverel owe has now been identified . The company that was once valued at £500m, sunk to £50m, has now fallen to around £42m. In the meantime, Peverel’s credit rating has fallen to levels close to the rate that they collapsed into administration. They are also having to pay interest to secured shareholder loans at 15% and non secured shareholder loans at 9%. Even Miss Entwistle has had to put her own money into Peverel!
    After paying interest charges to the shareholders and banks the overall profit Peverel made, even with all the overcharges, rebates, contributions to expenses, commissions for heater sales, use of their own companies for expensive unnecessary work, charging £60 to write a letter, £145 for sub-letting permission, they made an actual profit of £12,000!
    Not much for a company of Peverel’s size and not much for a company with so many liabilities!