KPMG reveals clear link between Malta pension fund and Swedish suspect

KPMG report shows how millions in Swedish savers’ money operated by Maltese pension fund were invested in financial instruments to benefit particular individuals 

Swedish entrepreneur Emil Ingmanson was the first to promote Falcon Funds to the Swedish pensions authority – through the alleged knowledge of Falcon Funds’ own investment managers, Temple Asset Management
Swedish entrepreneur Emil Ingmanson was the first to promote Falcon Funds to the Swedish pensions authority – through the alleged knowledge of Falcon Funds’ own investment managers, Temple Asset Management

A new light has been shone on the way a Maltese pensions fund sold to Swedish savers was used by dubious financial services practitioners to siphon money into an energy company.

A report drawn up by auditors KPMG, appointed by the financial regulator to take control of Falcon Funds, shows that millions in Swedish savers’ money were invested in financial instruments to benefit particular individuals – without any guaranteed return to the savers.

Some €60 million was poured into obscure investments layered under one company after the other, to benefit the mysterious Swedish entrepreneur Emil Ingmanson – the man who first promoted Falcon Funds to the Swedish pensions authority – through the alleged knowledge of Falcon Funds’ own investment managers, Temple Asset Management (TAM) of Floriana.

In its report, KPMG suspects that at Ingmanson’s behest, TAM’s Anthony Farrell (pictured) invested heavily in assets in which Ingmanson himself had an interest, at inflated values.

Ingmanson was the original promoter of Falcon Funds, a €247 million pension scheme marketed to Swedish savers, that invested the cash in blue-chip investments. Although he was never its founder-shareholder, Ingmanson had a formal role in setting up Falcon Funds, as well as having attended 13 board meetings of Falcon Funds, whose directors were former finance minister Tonio Fenech, Ian Zammit and Joseph Xuereb.

However, financial services rules require that all investment decisions are vested in a firm independent of the fund’s directors, which in this case was Temple Asset Mangement.

KPMG has now found “a clear connection” between Ingmanson and the Swedish energy company Werel, which it said was formerly known as Konsument EL Sverige – a company that once was entirely owned by Ingmanson.

“We discovered in an informal discussion with Valletta Fund Services, that Ingmanson was very much involved in the fund’s operation, and that he effectively took decisions related to investments, which should have been TAM’s responsibility,” KPMG director Sarah Camilleri wrote in her report.

Indeed, Ingmanson’s role was so overbearing that Falcon’s original investment managers Calamatta & Cuschieri resigned their role. “At one point Ingmanson wanted them to invest in Formula 1 just so that he could get the free F1 race tickets that investors get.”

When KPMG took control of the pension fund, they found there was not enough information and analysis carried out by TAM justifying the investments in various financial instruments that ultimately benefited the company Werel.

Specifically, the money was invested in ETIs (exchange traded instruments) marketed by another Malta firm, Argentarius, which is run by Austrian national Andreas Woelfl. ETIs are used to create a chain of companies where the money invested in one, ‘runs down’ to the ultimate beneficiary. “It looks like these ETIs were designed in such a way so as to make the initial investment appear liquid enough to merit the pension fund’s interest, despite the fact that ultimately the beneficial company at the bottom of the chain is illiquid.”

In fact, it was in this manner that Werel AB managed to get some €60 million in cash from Falcon Funds, through investments made in Boardwalk Real Estate ETI, Nordic Power ETIC, LX Viceroy Industies, LX Median Trust, and Reditum.

“These investments were made specifically to allow the fund to acquire shares in Werel, an unlisted company, which was not even eligible as an investment for such a pension fund,” KPMG said.

“The investments in the top companies hid the level to which the fund was exposed to Werel, which was hidden under a number of investments… it is clearly that TAM did not follow the rules imposed by Falcon Funds, by investing significant amounts, indirectly, in Werel.”

However, KPMG suspects that the Falcon investments were made in ETIs that were charging an inflated premium for the Werel shares.

“Effectively, TAM would invest some €20 million in two ETIs… for shares whose net asset value was €2.6 million. But the significant investment does not reflect the value of the Werel shares, so we cannot explain this high premium… We cannot understand TAM’s reasoning for investing such significant amounts in this company.”

KPMG said that not even Argentarius’s Andreas Woelfl could explain the high premium charged by the ETIs for what turned out to be Werel shares. According to Woelfl, it was TAM “who gave us instructions to structure this investment with these values.”

KPMG’s Sarah Camilleri said she could find no evidence that TAM had ever requested a valuation of the ETIs and their underlying investments, so as to be able to calculate their net asset value. “This is highly irregular, because without this valuation, TAM could not establish the value of Falcon Funds’ investment.”

BACK STORY

Falcon Funds was a pension fund marketed in Sweden but whose directors are Maltese. It became the subject of a criminal investigation, since then closed, after the Swedish pensions authority claimed it was unable to pay back €247 million in savings because of ‘major investment fraud’.

The MFSA put Falcon Funds under the control of auditors KPMG, and gave its directors – Tonio Fenech, Ian Zammit and Joseph Xuereb – an official reprimand for failing investors, prohibiting the directors from accepting any new appointments which require MFSA approval for two years.

Temple Asset Management, run by Anthony Farrell, was the investment manager for the pension fund.

The MFSA has fined TAM a total of €612,000 for breaches 23 different standard licence conditions and had its licence suspended. TAM and Emil Ingmanson – who has since been arrested in Sweden – are also being sued by Falcon Funds.

An investigation by the Swedish pensions authority, prompted by several complaints, revealed that clients from another pension fund, which underwent a merger with another fund, had been misleadingly transferred to Falcon Funds.

The Swedish TV programme Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts) in 2016 had crucially revealed an important email that showed that Temple were setting up Ingmanson to take over Falcon Funds’ investment decisions with his own company, Falcon Asset Management – which he registered in Malta.

The upshot was a grave conflict of interest at play: money deposited by Swedish pensioners with Falcon Funds was being invested by its investment manager, Temple, into financial instruments owned by Ingmanson, while knowing he planned to replace it as investment manager and take control of investment decisions.

Tonio Fenech was at first defensive of Ingmanson, who said he was the subject of unfair press in Sweden.

“The claims made of the links with Ingmanson are at the least speculative,” Fenech first said in June 2016.

He described him as a “person of repute”, even declaring that he had “no involvement in the selling or investments decisions of the fund.”

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