Former Wisbech businesswoman fighting to get money back from Keydata after investing �260k in collapsed fund

A FORMER businesswoman has been left sickened at financial advice which saw her invest her life savings in a doomed company and dash her hopes of a comfortable retirement.

Carol Scholes, from Walsoken, invested �260,000 in Keydata – a financial services company which went into administration in 2009 – on advice given to her by Norwich & Peterborough Building Society in 2005.

The 66-year-old is among hundreds of savers who have lodged a joint action, which could be worth around �18million, against the building society – claiming that they were mis-sold investment products.

Mrs Scholes, who invested the proceeds from the sale of her Wisbech grocery store, Waltons, said: “This is money I had earned from 15 years of work, seven days a week. I’m sickened by it. I’m so angry at the advice I got from a financial advisor that I had no reason to mistrust.

“I asked for a low risk or no risk investment. I was told that this was copper-bottomed, gold-plated and gilt-edged and that I shouldn’t worry. It’s disgraceful.

“I had dreams of a comfortable retirement. I have worked hard for 15 years and I’m entitled to have a little bit of a rest and I looked forward to it. Now that’s gone.

“My son is expecting his first child in March. What am I going to be able to help them with now?”

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The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) had announced that it would reimburse eligible investors in the collapsed Keydata fund, but the FSCS does not give compensation beyond �48,000.

Mrs Scholes is one of more than 200 customers who are set to snub this offer and pursue the building society through the Financial Ombudsman Services.

It is the latest blow to Norwich & Peterborough, which is currently under investigation by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and is believed to be a takeover target for a number of rivals.

Norwich & Peterborough spokesman Alison Rolls said the building society was working with all parties to reach a resolution for all their Keydata customers – not only those who had made formal complaints.

She said: “It is essential that a considered and satisfactory solution is found for everyone.

“The recent decision by Financial Services Compensation Scheme to compensate Keydata investors up to �48,000 was an important milestone towards achieving that resolution and was welcome news for the majority of N&P’s Keydata investors who invested less than that amount.

“We’re working with the Financial Services Authority and various other parties to agree a final resolution in the early part of 2011. In the meantime we have continued to provide as much support as we possibly can to affected members, including our programme of hardship loans.

“We apologise for the prolonged delay in resolving what is a very complex process and are grateful to our affected members for their continued patience as the process reaches its conclusion.”

About 3,100 Norwich & Peterborough customers are thought to have savings caught up in Keydata, which had been an FSA regulated company. It is now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Had Keydata not collapsed, Mrs Scholes’ investment would have matured next year.

“The stress of it all has actually made me quite ill,” said Mrs Scholes. “I’m on the wrong side of 40 – to put it mildly – and I have had all this stress. There’s no way now that I can get enough money together so that I can recoup what was taken from me.

“I want compensation for the stress that this has caused me and I just want my money back.

“I will be very careful with this sort of advice in future and I certainly won’t be considering any type of relationship with Norwich & Peterborough.

“It has put a tremendous strain on my personal relationships and it has impinged on every aspect of my life. I’m not just angry for me, I’m angry for everyone else who were mis-sold this as well.”

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