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Continental Wealth Management, an Alicante, Spain-based advisory firm which was known, among other things, for helping Britons to transfer their pensions out of the country, has closed suddenly, leaving hundreds of investors stranded, sources have told International Investment.
The story, which broke over the weekend following the company’s closure on 29 September and which is continuing to unfold, may affected as many as 900 clients, with assets under management in the tens of thousands of pounds, these sources say.
The company’s website, www.continentalwealth.com, is no longer in operation, its phone appears to be off the hook, and the closure has been reported on a number of blogs and websites, including that of Pension Life, a pension fraud victims’ campaign organisation headed up by Spain-based Angie Brooks.
The firm’s collapse is likely to be seen as yet another blow for the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, which has been criticised for not acting sooner to ensure that investors who have been transferring their pensions out of their UK schemes in recent years have been well-advised, and were not, as critics like Brooks claim, too often being scammed.
It isn’t known how long Continental Wealth was in business but sources say it has been transferring pensions out of the UK, mainly on behalf of expatriate Britons living in Spain and Portugal, for years.
According to Brooks, who has been helping some of the firm’s clients, Continental Wealth Management had been headed up by Darren Kirby, and as of earlier this year, employed around 35 people.
Kirby couldn’t immediately be be reached for comment. Sources told International Investment he had left the country.
Brooks said some clients began to be concerned as early as last year when their their pension and investment funds, entrusted to CWM, began to “dramatically” shrink in value.
“It has now become clear that in fact many clients have indeed suffered catastrophic losses, and there is a very great deal of concern,” Brooks added.
She praised two companies – Trafalgar International and Momentum Pensions – for having been working “extremely hard to deal with this problem” and for working closely with her to help to “broker a resolution”.