Parliament endorses Equitable Life probe

The full European Parliament, sitting in Strasbourg, has approved the setting up of a committee of enquiry into the UK insurance company Equitable Life.

MEPS decided, in a vote taken on 18 January 2006, to endorse the proposed committee. It will be composed of 22 MEPs, including Irish MEP Mairead McGuiness, who said last year, “The [Equitable Life] debacle raises huge questions over shopping across borders for pensions and other financial services.” 

Millions of policy holders across Europe lost savings as a result of a failure by Equitable Life to honour policies and the company’s subsequent near-bankruptcy (see EURACTIV 13 Jan 2006).

The committee has been set up further to a petition presented to the Parliament in September 2005 by the Equitable Members Action Group (EMAG), a group of policy holders who had lost savings as a result of Equitable’s actions.

Paul Braithwaite of EMAG said that he was “delighted” with the EP decision which, he said, “is a good example of the European Parliament standing up for the rights of EU citizens.” Braithwaite told EURACTIV that he hoped the committee, which would be able to examine issues not covered by UK investigations, would look into the soundness of the UK Financial Services Authority as a regulator. 

Further, he hoped that the committee’s findings would result in pressure being put on the Commission to refer the UK to the European Court of Justice for failure to adequately implement European laws.

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