The FCA has secured a conditional agreement with the defendants in proceedings seeking compensation for approximately 4,500 investors in the failed Park First Scheme. The conditional agreement should see a further £25 million made available for compensation to investors.
The FCA brought proceedings against chief executive, Toby Scott Whittaker, director John Slater and a number of companies involved or connected to the Park First Scheme. A number of further companies involved in the Park First Scheme entered administration in July 2019 and November 2020.
The agreement is conditional on Park First investors approving Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs) in respect of these companies, which will give them a say about whether these arrangements and the conditional agreement are acceptable.
The conditional agreement provides for a further £25 million to be available to the investors, on top of the £33 million already secured by the FCA out of the proceeds of the sale of the car park at Luton airport.
Mr Whittaker will need to realise most of his assets to pay the sum of £25 million, which will be paid in instalments on the sale of the assets. If any instalment is unpaid, Mr Whittaker has agreed not to contest the debt for the purpose of any bankruptcy proceedings brought by the FCA.
The full details of the conditional agreement will be set out in the proposals for the CVAs which investors will be able to vote on.
If the arrangements are approved, the defendants will consent to orders that they breached section 19 of the Financial Services & Markets Act, 2000 by operating a collective investment scheme without being authorised by the FCA as required. This admission only applies to the FCA’s case. If the investors do not approve the arrangements and the conditional agreement, the FCA’s proceedings against the defendants will continue. The trial is fixed for hearing in February 2022.
Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA said: 'The agreement, if approved, represents a better outcome in the proceedings for investors than could have achieved through continued legal action, given the financial position of the parties. It also gives investors the final say on the merits of the conditional agreement.'
The FCA first intervened with Park First in 2016, stopping the operation and promotion of the original scheme. Following the FCA’s action, the scheme was restructured, and investors were offered the chance to get their initial investment back or move into a different scheme. However, the operation proved to be uneconomic and the companies involved in running the scheme entered into administration in July 2019.
Notes for editors
- The full list of defendants to the FCA’s claim is as follows: Park First Limited; Harley Scott Residential Limited (previously known as Park First Glasgow Limited); Park First Skyport Limited; Cophall Parking Gatwick Limited; Park First Management Limited; Paypark Limited; Help-Me-Park.com Limited; Group First Global Limited; Toby Scott Whittaker and John Slater.
- Park First Freeholds Limited; Park First Glasgow Rentals Limited, Park First Gatwick Rentals Limited and Help Me Park Gatwick Limited entered administration in July 2019. Airport Parking Rentals (Gatwick) Limited and Paypark Limited entered administration in November 2020.
- The full list of companies that are to propose CVAs is as follows: Park First Limited; Harley Scott Residential Limited (previously known as Park First Glasgow Limited); Park First Skyport Limited; Cophall Parking Gatwick Limited; Park First Management Limited; Paypark Limited; Help-Me-Park.com Limited; Group First Global Limited; Park First Freeholds Limited; Park First Glasgow Rentals Limited; Park First Gatwick Rentals Limited; Help Me Park Gatwick Limited; Airport Parking Rentals (Gatwick) Limited; Paypark Limited.