Court finds farmer was not mis-sold investment

A farmer and “high net worth investor” has lost his High Court challenge against the Financial Services Ombudsman’s decision to reject complaints he made about an investment in which he lost €2m and which he claims he was mis-sold.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan said that Charles Verschoyle-Greene had failed to show any error in the finding of the FSO, which had rejected his complaints against Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd.

Mr Verschoyle-Greene claimed he had not been given sufficient information and documentation when he invested in a product advertised by the bank in 2007.

Judge Noonan said Mr Verschoyle-Greene, who owns around 700 acres of land in Co Carlow, had invested €4m in 2007 in two products which had been promoted by Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd.

One of the products, the New Mersey Property Syndicate, was an investment in a retail shopping centre in Liverpool, for which he had borrowed €2m from the bank’s parent, Bank of Ireland.

Judge Noonan said the acquisition of the shopping centre had been funded by private equity from investors and borrowings from an international financial institution.

Following the economic collapse in 2008, the value of the property fell sharply, triggering an increase in the interest rate of the borrowing.

Judge Noonan said Mr Verschoyle-Greene claimed the hike in the interest ultimately led to the collapse of the investment and the loss of all the equity invested, including Mr Verschoyle-Greene’s €2m.

The judge said it was Mr Verschoyle-Greene’s case that certain matters had never been disclosed to him by Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd. He later complained to the Ombudsman who investigated the matter.

Following an oral hearing of both parties, the FSO was satisfied that Bank of Ireland Private Banking Ltd had reasonably presented the investment to Mr Verschoyle-Greene, who was an “experienced high net worth investor” and knew there was no capital guarantee.

It rejected his complaint.


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