Monthly Archives: February 2013

Millions regret not buying in 2012

Around 3.6% of UK adults said their biggest financial regret of 2012 was not moving or buying a home for the first time according to research by first direct.

This is the equivalent of around 1.5m people – and the figure rose to more than 8% amongst 25-34 year olds, amounting to almost 600,000 people.

Andy Forbes, head of retail products at first direct, said: “It’s worrying that such a large number of people regretted not buying a home in 2012.

“Buying a home is understandably a daunting prospect especially in these financially uncertain times.”

Despite a 1% increase in property sales in England and Wales last year, only 640,000 properties were sold which is only half the number of homes sold when the market was at its peak in 2006.

If you are looking to buy in 2013 and would like to know more about the purchase process or would like some professional mortgage advice to help you choose the right product why not give us a call on 01489 580020 to arrange a mutul meeting or email us on


EC unveils euro counterfeiting figures for 2012

The European Commission (EC) has noted an increase in the number of fake euros confiscated, after compiling its counterfeiting figures for 2012.

Over the course of last year, 184,000 counterfeit coins – a 17 per cent year-on-year increase – and 531,000 fake banknotes were removed, reports In total, there are believed to be some 929 billion euros of genuine currency in circulation.

Algirdas Semeta, European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, said: “A currency shared by 17 countries and 330 million people is an attractive target for criminals. So we must make sure that crime doesn’t pay.”

“A more harmonised approach to sanctions and better cross-border cooperation will help us come down hard on currency counterfeiting,” Semeta continued.

The value of the counterfeit coins collected was at least 290,000 euros (£250,000), with no figures provided for the bank notes. The most commonly forged coin was the two-euro piece – 80 per cent of the time it was this coin that was faked.

In its battle against counterfeiters, the EC recently proposed introducing a minimum six-month jail sentence in serious cases.

According to, counterfeiting has cost the EC around 500 million euros since 2002, which is why the organisation is stepping its efforts at prosecuting those involved in using fake cash.

Courtesy of loomis

Checks made by Financial Adviser highlight that advisers should carry out thorough due diligence before clients invest with Harlequin Management Services (South East) Limited (Harlequin), which was the subject of an FSA alert last week.

Harlequin is an international property investment agent with interests in overseas hotels.

The alert, directed at regulated firms and not at Harlequin, said advisers should consider how building work is progressing on the various sites, establish how funds will be used and make a full assessment of all publicly available information about the overseas property investments through Harlequin, and on all the parties associated with these investments.

In Harlequin’s 2011 annual report, the independent auditor BDO said: “There have been historic and ongoing problems with the accounting record keeping.”

The director’s report said the records were accepted by previous auditors Wilkins Kennedy, but Harlequin had since recruited more accounting personnel and allowed BDO to audit its related parties in St Vincent, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and St Lucia.

A statement from Harlequin said: “Changes have been made to the record-keeping in line with the advice from BDO and, as such, any historic issues with the accounts are being addressed fully and thoroughly.”

Harlequin has commenced a legal claim against Wilkins Kennedy alleging professional negligence.

A spokesman for Wilkins Kennedy said: “Because of the ongoing legal dispute we cannot comment other than to say Wilkins Kennedy is robustly contesting the claims against us.”

Companies House records show that Harlequin was issued with a striking off notice on the 3 April 2012, that was rescinded a day later.

The statement from Harlequin said this was due to the late filing of annual accounts.

Separately, the Harlequin statement said the firm was dealing with a few claims in the East Caribbean Supreme Court from investors who wanted refunds on investments.

It said: “Most requests for refunds are dealt with quickly and amicably without any recourse to litigation. However, certain purchasers have sought to claim more than they are contractually entitled to which can lead to a dispute. Harlequin has been successful in recent months in having certain parts of these claims dismissed.”

It said purchasers were entitled to refunds in accordance with their contract if properties were not built on time, but said only a minuscule proportion have sought refunds.

Harlequin property investments are promoted by alternative investment firms in the UK but are not under FSA supervision as they do not undertake regulated activity.

Harlequin had endorsed and helped construct the FSA alert, and had sent its own guidance to regulated advisers and unregulated agents.

Base rate and QE both maintained in MPC decision

Today’s Monetary Policy Decision from the Bank of England sees the base rate maintained at 0.5 percent once again. They also voted to maintain quantitive easing at £375 billion.