Manx Herald 20 May 09: Did Allan Bell deliberately give potentially misleading information ... ?

Tue, 19/05/2009

The Manx Herald is attempting to find out why, and on the basis of what advice or information, Treasury Minister Allan Bell said, live on Manx Radio’s Agenda programme (6.00pm Monday 18th May), a failure to vote in favour of the KSF (IOM) Scheme of Arrangement (SoA) would be: “damaging to the interests, certainly sections of the depositors, as they wouldn’t get their money so quickly, …there would be a tendency towards a ‘fire sale’ of assets, rather than the managed sale of assets which we think would give a higher return to the depositors; and one or two other things”.

Mr Bell followed this up with another live interview on Manx Radio’s morning Mandate programme (7.30am Tuesday 19th May).

John Moss asked Mr Bell how important it was depositors voted ‘Yes’ to the SoA.

Mr Bell replied a lot of work had been put in, by Treasury officials, to get the best possible deal for depositors and he hoped they would vote in favour; albeit he acknowledged it was for them to decide.

When asked why it was important depositors voted for the scheme, and not liquidation; Mr Bell repeated his claim that it would provide a better chance for a higher return for depositors, as with a SoA there will be a: “managed run down of the assets…..where as with a liquidation … that is the funeral rights, the end of the story, and we end up with frequently with a ‘fire sale’ of assets at, perhaps, a much lower price than they may otherwise get”. He also suggested liquidation would also close the door to any possible sale of the business.

The Manx Herald understands that members of the provisional liquidators' team were horrified by what Mr Bell had said; and it is notable that Mike Simpson, during questioning by depositors prior to the voting, later that morning, reassured depositors he doubted there will be any difference in how they manage the realization of assets; whether it is liquidation or the SoA.

It was also confirmed, after the meeting, by members of his team, whatever the outcome of the vote, they will be attempting to make the best possible return to depositors; and a ‘fire sale’ of assets does not form a part of their plans.

Whether Mr Bell just forgot to engage his brain, before opening his mouth, or well knew what he was saying - and was deliberately trying to influence the un-cast votes of voters listening to the programmes - remains to be answered; but Mr Bell’s motives and conduct has to be questioned.

If the Manx Herald receives an explanation from Mr Bell we will of course publish it.

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