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OFT raps firms for bankruptcy service failings

The Office of Fair Trading has ordered broker Alpha Mortgages Manchester and two of its associated companies to improve their practices when offering bankruptcy annulment services to customers.

Alpha Mortgages Manchester, along with The Bankruptcy Protection Fund and Consolidated Finance, have been told to be more transparent with clients.

Bankruptcies can be annulled by a court in certain circumstances, such as when debts and expenses are paid off in full or guaranteed to the satisfaction of the court.

Some businesses offer recently bankrupted home owners a short-term loan secured on their property to repay such debts and expenses and enable them to seek a bankruptcy annulment.

An OFT investigation found that the three companies had not been transparent in their dealings and failed to adequately outline the risks involved. They had misled consumers about cancellation rights and in one instance failed to take account of the needs of a client with limited mental capacity.

Ray Watson, director of the OFT’s Consumer Credit Group, says: “The OFT expects fairness and transparency from this sector to ensure consumers are not misled and do not find themselves in a worse financial situation.”



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Japan Economic Insight

James Dowey, Chief Economist, and Paul Caruana-Galizia, Economist

The conventional wisdom is that following a roughly 50 per cent rise in the stock market in 2013 in Yen terms, the Japan trade is over and done*. So the story goes, those big gains were due to a one-off boost from quantitative easing (QE) and a depreciation of the Yen — policies that one should think of as a palliative to Japan’s economic weakness, but not a cure. Rather the cure, and by implication the necessary condition for a longer-term investment case, is deep structural reforms — a painstaking re-weaving of Japan’s economic and social fabric, no less. The story continues: this is a much tougher test than launching a blast of QE, and one that prime minister Shinzo Abe, although well intentioned and well supported by the public thus far, is likely to fail. Stick a fork in Japan, it’s done…continue reading


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