Swedes still want investigation despite MFSA clearance on Malta-run pension

Falcon Fund insists on its obligation towards pension savers to investigate suspicions in the way a Malta-run fund is investing their money

The Swedish pensions agency has insisted it has an obligation towards pension savers to investigate suspicions in the way a Malta-run fund is investing their money.

The fund, Falcon Fund, is run from Malta and is offered for investment on the Swedish premium pension system, where savers can contribute 2.5% of their annual salaries in the private pension of their choice.

The €250 million fund reinvests the money in top stocks like Apple and Air France and corporate bonds.

But the pensions agency has reported Falcon Fund, one of whose directors is former finance minister and Nationalist MP Tonio Fenech, to the Malta Financial Services Authority over three particular instruments the fund has invested in.

It also believes thousands of pension savers had their savings transferred from their funds to Falcon Fund through the fraudulent sales tactics of the Konsumentkraft call centre, which was subcontracted by Falcon’s distributor.

The MFSA has only recently informed the Swedish pensions agency that it had found nothing untoward about Falcon Funds investing in the securities Solid Venture P2P, Boardwalk Real Estate, and WSV Pro Mittelstand.

But the Swedish pensions agency is suspicious that the securities bear similarities to the Malta company Solid Venture Capital and an associated company in the Isle of Man called Boardwalk, set up by Emil Ingmanson, a Swedish entrepreneur who had a role in starting Falcon Fund and is now positioning himself to become the fund’s investment manager.

The allegations have been denied by Ingmanson and the directors of Falcon Funds. Emails sent from Falcon Fund’s investment managers to an unnamed bank however indicated that Ingmanson is awaiting licensing from the MFSA to set up Falcon Asset Management as the company that will take the investment decisions for Falcon Funds.

“We do not usually find these types of investments in UCITS-funds and are worried about the underlying investments and the valuation,” the Swedish pensions agency has told MaltaToday after the Maltese-run pension fund featured on TV4’s ‘Cold Facts’ in Sweden – an exposé that revealed the way Konsumentkraft agents conned savers to transfer their monies into Falcon Fund.

“We question why a UCITS-fund such as Falcon Fund should invest in such instruments at all, and if such investment is in the best interest of the shareholders. Consequently, we have asked the MFSA to investigate if there may be a conflict of interest behind Falcon Fund’s decision to invest in the ETIs.”

Tonio Fenech has defended the pension fund from the allegations, saying he filed a complaint with the Swedish ombudsman after the pensions agency insisted that investments in Falcon remain closed.

“The Swedish pensions agency has an agenda against the fund because it is Malta-run. They can’t stomach this. I met them myself and asked them why they had not lifted our suspension when we had severed our relationship with Konsumentkraft. They lifted the suspension of four others funds, but not ours,” Fenech protested.

Falcon Fund’s distributor, Stellum, has severed the contract it had with Konsumentkfraft between June and September 2015. According to former employees of the call centre who spoke to ‘Cold Facts’, they were specifically asked to tell Swedish savers they should transfer all their savings to Falcon.

“As a Swedish authority, the Pensions Agency treats UCITS-funds from all EU-countries in the same way,” a spokesperson for the agency said.

“If we experience problems connected to the way pension savers have been induced to invest in a fund or where we have reason to believe that a fund may have made investments that a UCITS-fund would normally not make, we have an obligation against Swedish pension savers to investigate the matter.”