Manx bank victims may be paid at last

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MORE than a decade after the pounds 42m collapse of the Isle of Man Savings and Investment Bank, official compensation may finally be on the way to thousands of depositors who lost their fortunes.

But Gwendoline Lamb, a leading campaigner for the depositors, said yesterday the payout should be at least doubled to pounds 9m from the pounds 4.4m expected to be on offer.

Because 10 years has elapsed, pounds 9m would now cover all the claims of the depositors who are still alive, she said.

A judge who two years ago called off the trial of six SIB directors and two others alleged to be connected with the affair hinted at the time that the Manx government should use the money saved from the trial to refund depositors.

The trial could have cost as much as pounds 10m but was dropped because eight years had elapsed since the alleged offences.

Miss Lamb demanded a bigger payment to 'end this absolute scandal after 10 shocking years of skulduggery at the highest level and a massive cover-up'.

Victims have only had 27.5 per cent interim dividends from the bank's joint liquidators.

But Miles Walker, the Crown dependency's chief minister, said yesterday that the release of an official report into the affair next Tuesday cleared the way for a one-off payment.

He revealed the scheme two years ago, but it was blocked because politicians insisted that the report should be published first.

Fears that its revelations would jeopardise fair trials held up publication. But the Manx High Court on Thursday approved publication of the report.

'If Tynwald agrees that a fully detailed scheme should be drawn up along the lines proposed, I would envisage the ex gratia payments being made some time next year,' Mr Walker said. 'Then perhaps we can put this whole long episode of SIB behind us.'

Most depositors with the SIB had pounds 10,000 or less lodged at the time of the crash. The scheme provides for 50 per cent of the first pounds 10,000 owed. This would make the maximum payout pounds 5,000.