Bank deposits are frozen: Wimbledon & South West Finance calls in administrators

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The Independent Online
ABOUT 2,500 savers who made deposits with Wimbledon & South West Finance are unable to withdraw their money today after the small London bank called in administrators.

Malcolm Cohen, one of the Stoy Hayward insolvency experts appointed by the court, said depositors were unlikely to be able to get their money back within the next three months. He was unwilling to give any assurances on what depositors would get back until he had reviewed the value of Wimbledon's portfolio of loans.

Mr Cohen said Wimbledon had insufficient funds to meet its capital adequacy requirements, after substantial provisions for bad debts. He said it was this rather than any excess of liabilities over assets that prompted Wimbledon to seek the appointment of administrators.

Last November, Richard Scriven, the bank's chairman, told the Independent that Wimbledon had adequate funds and was 'in no financial difficulties whatsoever'. Mr Scriven said that restrictions on its lending were not the result of pressure from the Bank of England.

Wimbledon was even then 'a little bit short' of the pounds 3.8m capital it needed under a European banking directive.

Wimbledon attracted deposits by paying higher rates of interest than those generally on offer.

Mr Cohen said the bank had outstanding loans of about pounds 21m, about two-thirds of it secured on commercial property and the rest on residential property.

Depositors can receive up to pounds 15,000 each under the Bank of England's depositors' protection scheme.