Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has joined the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in taking tenancy in Aberdeens AB1 office complex on Huntly Street.
You may remember that I commented on the AB1 complex a while ago when the COPFS first took up residence there.
So what’s the story this time?
Well the interesting thing about HMCTS taking residency in the same office block as the COPFS is not so much that HMCTS and COPFS should NOT be working so closely together due to conflicts of interests (disturbing as that is).
No, the interesting thing about this story is who the OWNERS of the AB1 office block are.
They are Aberdeen Asset Management (AAM).
Who is AAM I hear you ask?
Well, they are famous (or infamous depending how you look at it) for being "the men who wiped out billions" (go check out the BBC’s website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3086997.stm for the full sordid story).
In a nutshell, AAM are the crowd who lost more than £3 billion in split capital investment trusts. More importantly, it was small investors like pensioners who poured their life savings into AAM's split capital investment trusts who lost money and were hurt the most.
Aberdeens investment director Chris Fyshwick had overseen changes in the way the investments were run which made the funds much riskier for investors. Without going in to the finer technical details, basically it meant the banks had first call on the assets in the pot and shareholders were relegated to second place.
Aberdeen Asset management told investors that their risk was minimal and that they would produce assured capital growth irrespective of market conditions.
But they then began to invest several split cap funds in each other creating a complex maze of cross-investment.
The end result was that income vanished and by November 2001 Aberdeen trust suspended its dividends and peoples retirement income vanished.
The Financial Services Authority launched an investigation into the scandal and a committee of MPs demanded answers from Aberdeen Asset Management but the men behind the losses stayed tight-lipped about the whole debacle (although Chris Fishwick later resigned from Aberdeen Asset Management).
You may think this is all very old news and happened a long, long time ago. You may be right.
All I’m saying is, do you think that:
a) AAM are fit and proper persons to be landlords to HMCTS and COPFS?
b) Should Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) be AAM's tenants and therefore be beholding to Aberdeen Asset Management?