Thursday, October 23, 2008

DBS May Compensate Some High Notes 5 Investor

This is a written response to Straits Times Article Help for Minibond Investors. Hong Leong Finance, Maybank and DBS may offer full compensation for vulnerable customers. This is first posted here by Daniel Tan on Facebook.

Dear DBS High Notes 5 Investor,

Beware! This sounds too good to be true. Could banks be attempting to destroy our will to fight and break down our unity? Remember it is unity that brought us together so far. It is unity that gives us strength. Without unity, we are nothing.

The vulnerable group (aged 55 and above, non-English educated) is the leading pack for compensation claims. This has 2 effects:

Firstly, this is a psychological attack on our compassion. The very same compassion that have driven us onward and together for fair compensation. We are in this together to push the financial institutions to provide a decent compensation for our losses, that was resulted from their alleged mis-representation. It is an attack to make us loose our will to fight.

Remember that if mis-representation is proved in court, the contract which you have signed is voided. Consequently, the financial instistution is not only required to pay you 100% of your compensation, but also the interest (most probably at the fixed deposit rate) that represents the opportunity cost you had lost. If banks take the position that they wish to compensate the group of vulnerable investors because of mis-selling, then mis-selling must have occurred to the general population who bought these investment products as well.

To date, no numbers and timelines have been released. DBS claims it will compensate, but it has not released any figure publicly that it will compensate 10%, 30%, 50% or 70% of your losses. It has also not said that if DBS will compensate immediately or via a small installment over a fixed period starting in 1 year´s time. How can any of us here reasonably judge that DBS has indeed given a compensation deal that is fair and rightful in our hearts in face of such opaque dealing?

Secondly, those outside the favoured category may get a lower percentage of compensation than the vulnerable pack, resulting in double injustice for the unfavoured people. Everybody is equally affected by the alleged mis-representation. A younger person who speaks English and is highly-educated is not necessary financially-sophisticated to handle investment schemes.

Would you expect a medical doctor to understand the same investment prospectus that have confused so many people? Do you think doctors study investment analysis and finance theories at medical school? Don´t let the fight for rightful compensation become a class struggle between the educated and the less educated. Such class struggle is counter-productive to our objectives! A 65-year-old lowly educated old lady is just as susceptible as the doctor.

Confidentiality may be used as a tool to continue the divide-and-conquer strategy to quell our fighting spirit and enhance the sense of helplessness among DBS High Notes 5 investors. By only giving in to the demands of the vulnerable group, this may lead to division of our group unity. DBS had said that it expected compensation to be in the range of S$70-80M, yet it has not actually hand out the compensation monies or release details of the compensation payment schemes.Confidentiality is barrier to verify DBS´ promise.

Moreover, the S$70-80M pay-out is not necessary limited to DBS High Notes 5 Investors from Singapore. This includes compensation for DBS High Notes 5 Investors from Hongkong too. Singapore and Hongkong investors had bought a total of S$360M of DBS High Notes 5. This represents an average of 25% compensation per investor, which suggests that most investors are entitled to much less than 25% of their original capital.

Banks have so far left many investors unhappy with the complaint process. The responsiveness of each bank and the independence of the complaint process still remains questionable. It is only after many weeks of immerse public pressure on MAS and DBS, then DBS has given in and is now considering compensation. However, It is not possible that while the banks have changed their mind on compensation policies, the bankers would have changed their heart for the better too. A leopard does not change its spots overnight.

An insider claimed that many relationship managers have been told to stop force-selling investment products. Even if the relationship managers hit their monthly quota, they will not get their due bonus too. I sincerely believe this is the result of the investigation petition that had been submitted to MAS. I also believe the same petition is responsible for reversal in position on compensation to DBS High Notes 5 Investors. But more must be done.

Hence, I stress collective group unity must be maintained until all pay-out schemes for each DBS High Notes 5 Investor have been finalised. I hope many of the High Notes 5 Investors, through this crisis, have discovered many good people and many good friends. In times of hardship, it is only such ties that we can truly depend on. A friend in need is a friend indeed. We must remain united till DBS has provided us a solution that satisfy all of us.

Unity is strength. Without unity, we are nothing.

Best regards
Daniel Tan

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