Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
Ms A.R writes: My ex-husband Christopher had a stroke in April 2013 and is now in a nursing home. I have power of attorney in respect of his finances.
In September 2013, he purchased a Mini Cooper car from Dave Negus Cars of March in Cambridgeshire, for £4,995.
But Christopher never received the car and it was not registered in his name. At the time, he owned a Ford Mondeo, bought in 2012 from the same dealer.
Dodgy deal? One reader found that her husband purchased a Mini Cooper but never received the car
Mr Negus took the car to sell on my ex-husband’s behalf, but did not hand over the proceeds. I believe Mr Negus has sold both cars and retired. Can anything be done to recover the money?
Tony replies: You are right that Dave Negus has retired, but neither he nor your ex-husband’s money has disappeared. In fact, as soon as I found him – still in March – he was keen to talk to me.
He knows you want him to hand over the money and he told me: ‘I have never denied this money is outstanding.’
The car dealer added: ‘I will gladly pay it if Ms R supplies me with all the information I requested from her nearly two years ago.’
What information was this? Well, you have told me: ‘The only information Dave Negus requested from me was Christopher’s address, so that he could go and talk to him.’
You explained: ‘Christopher is a vulnerable adult and I do not trust Dave Negus’s intentions for visiting him.
‘How do I know that his purpose for the visit is not to trick Christopher into signing a gift affidavit or similar?’
I have to say I found this unlikely. In the circumstances you described, it would be easy to have any such gift overturned. But I went back to Dave Negus and put all this to him – and he came up with a fairly convincing argument.
He knew Christopher quite well and regarded him as a friend. He actively discouraged him from buying the Mini Cooper as he felt sure Christopher would never be in a position to drive it. It was only after your ex-husband made repeated visits that he agreed to sell him the car.
But the crunch point is that Dave Negus says that when he last discussed the money with Christopher, he was absolutely clear it should not be handed over to you.
Your marriage had broken down and Christopher was living with someone else. Negus added he had never seen the power of attorney in your favour.
I was able to help on this last point by confirming to him that the Office of the Public Guardian has certified that Christopher did indeed appoint you as his attorney in 2015. Legally, you stand in his place and are entitled to demand any payment due to him.
I hoped this would be a step forward and I proposed to Dave Negus he should transfer the money – around £5,000 in all – into Christopher’s bank account, which is in his sole name. If Christopher was then happy to let you have access to it, then that would be for him to decide.
Sadly, this did not work. Negus told me: ‘I am going to be just as stubborn as Ms R and try to work out why she does not want me to see Chris.’
I admire Negus’s loyalty to his friend, but everything I have seen puts you legally in the right. Your next step can only be to sue for the money on Christopher’s behalf.
Small error leads to big tax demand
P.R. writes: A client of my accountancy firm, Mr G, received a demand from Revenue & Customs, showing that in 2014-15 he underpaid income tax by £56 on three small private pensions. The pensions totalled £1,335 and tax of £364 was deducted at source. As Mr G did not pay the £56, the Revenue resurrected the old self-assessment account and issued a 2014-15 tax return, which nobody knew about until much later. Now the tax office is trying to collect £1,300 in penalties for failure to submit the return.
Mr G retired in 2006 and ceased having to complete self-assessment tax returns because his only income was the state pension and his three small private pensions. It is unclear why the £56 was not collected at source.
His tax office explained it was not allowed to deduct more than half of a pension in tax. But £364 is a lot less than half of £1,335, so that does not add up.
Normally, any Pay As You Earn debt is carried over to the next year and collected along with that year’s tax deductions.
There is no obvious reason why this was not done, but because Mr G did not respond to the demand for a one-off payment, his tax office seems to have over-reacted.
I asked the Revenue’s head office to look into this and staff there told me: ‘An error had been made in the taxpayer’s record. This has been corrected to ensure the correct tax is deducted from future payments.
One reader found a msall error led to a big tax demand from Revenue & Customs
‘We have cancelled the penalties and waived the outstanding tax. The situation has been explained to the taxpayer and we have apologised.’
The right outcome.
Mobile phone firm keeps asking to speak to my husband even though I’ve told them he is dead
Mrs H.L. writes: Can you advise me on how to stop Three Mobile ringing nearly every day to speak to my dead husband?
Big companies do seem to have a problem in accepting the death of a customer.
I receive complaints all the time about businesses that are told of a death and then send a reply addressed to the deceased customer. When you told Three Mobile your husband had died, you were asked to send his death certificate.
You did and it was returned promptly, but this did not stop the company from ringing time and again with the same request. Eventually, a letter arrived – addressed to your late husband of course – threatening debt collection proceedings if an outstanding bill of £21 was not paid.
When you complained, you were told to take the death certificate to a Three shop and ask staff to email a copy to customer services.
You did this and were told the account was now closed, but a month later the phone calls started all over again and Three denied seeing the death certificate.
Three has admitted to me its staff did not follow its own procedures correctly. The firm said: ‘We are sorry for the way Mrs L’s case was handled. This is not the experience we want Three customers to have. We would like to reassure Mrs L the account has now been permanently closed and any outstanding balance cleared.’ Good.
Victims of Cape Verde islands scam compensated with more than £500k
Con: Richard Clay’s victims can claim compensation
The Serious Fraud Office has secured more than £500,000 which will be handed over in compensation to victims of fraudsters who told them their savings would be invested in resort developments in the Cape Verde islands.
Richard Clay and his accomplice Kathryn Clark ran Arck, an investment firm based in Nottingham.
Both were ‘approved persons’ on the official register of the then City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority. I warned in 2012 that Clay had diverted investors’ cash into speculating on risky second-hand life insurance policies and in 2015 he was jailed for ten years.
Clark was given a two-year suspended sentence. Both were ordered to pay compensation. The prosecution was linked to developments under the names Arck Estrella, Estrella Santiago, Paradise Beach and Joyston.
Clay and Clarke also claimed to be investing in property in Fernie, a Canadian ski resort.
In total, the pair raked in £47 million from 750 investors. Some have already made successful claims from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The Serious Fraud Office is now inviting claims from investors whose money went into the Cape Verde projects. Details at https://sfo-arck-lpp.egressforms.com/.
If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email email@example.com. Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online