31/08/2001

Government to probe Equitable Life fiasco

The UK government is set to launch an in-depth investigation into the life assurance company Equitable Life.

The move was confirmed by the government after thousands of policy holders saw their investments slashed because of troubles at the company.

The Treasury's statement indicated that the inquiry could probe the firm's activities as far back as the 1950s, when it began selling the guaranteed annuity policies that brought the firm to the brink of financial failure.

Members of the Equitable Life have repeatedly called on a full government investigation after complaints that the inquiry by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) watchdog did not go far enough. The FSA's investigation, which has yet to be officially handed over to the government, only goes as far back as the beginning of 1999.

However, the government has stressed that the inquiry will only look at the circumstances that led to the problems, rather than seeking to advise policy holders on a future course of action.

Founded in 1762, the Equitable Life is the UK's oldest life assurance company. (MB)

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