Some funds recovered from collapsed company that promised to protect assets from care home fees
PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:13 27 December 2018
Families are reaping back some of the missing money from an Ipswich company run by an alleged fraudster, who has just been jailed for eight months after failing to help clients track down £25m of their investments.
Some of the missing money from a collapsed Ipswich company has been tracked down.
Steven Long – who has been jailed for eight months after failing to help clients track down £25m of their investments – ran several companies under the umbrella of Universal Wealth and had offices across the country as well as a head office in Ipswich.
Using the strapline ‘Keep it in the Family’, the company promised to protect people’s assets from care home fees. When the company collapsed, it left potentially thousands of clients without direct ownership of their assets.
For those with houses in trust, the solution has turned out to be relatively simple and there are several law firms now offering to change trustees for a fee. But for others who invested large sums of cash it has been more difficult.
Speaking on Radio Four’s Money Box programme, the solicitor Shivani Varma of Kleyman Solicitors explained that she has been carrying out work into the case since earlier this year. “We have identified a number of things that we think might lead to an asset or account,” she said. “I am sure that there is a lot more that’s missing, but we have made some recovery already and we think there’s further recovery to be made.”
It’s not only cash that has gone missing, but in some cases legal documents.
Shirley Leach, a 76 year-old who lives near Ipswich Hospital, explained that she and her husband had lodged their wills and power of attorney documents with one of Mr Long’s companies, Universal Asset Protection, for safekeeping 11 years ago. They had been paying £3.75 each month for this service until May this year, when Mrs Leach’s bank informed her that the £3.75 had been returned.
“The phone number and email address we were given no longer work, and I want to know what’s happened to all of my documents,” she explained. “I’m not bothered about the money - I never paid in big lumps of cash in because I had my suspicions about the company, they seemed to be getting too big. But I want to know what’s happened to all my paperwork. If something happens to me, the executor of my will needs to get hold of it.”
Mrs Leach recalls meeting Mr Long at one of the seminars he held to a packed-out hotel room in Ipswich three years ago. She says that after expressing interest in investing money, Mr Long later visited she and her husband at their home. “He was quite nice and chatty and I thought what a genuine bloke,” she said.