Morgan knew of deals, says Young

Unit trust fiasco: Suspended fund manager says he informed senior executives of companies he was buying into
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The Independent Online
Peter Young, the fund manager at the centre of the Morgan Grenfell fiasco, broke his silence yesterday, saying his senior managers knew about the transactions that led to the suspension of three top-performing funds last week.

Investigators are attempting to unravel a maze of Luxembourg-registered shell companies set up by the 38-year-old fund manager and assess whether he made any personal gain from his actions.

Speaking at his pounds 450,000 house in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, Mr Young said that he went out of his way to tell senior management about the companies in which he bought shares.

But, he said his managers did not scrutinise his work because they trusted his previous performance. The funds he ran had been among the top-performing funds before sliding through the rankings earlier this year.

"People want to believe in magic, they want to believe in gurus. They don't want to look inside the box because it might spoil the trick," Mr Young said.

Morgan Grenfell froze his assets, and those of a Luxembourg company, Russ Oil & Technology, last week. He has also had his passport confiscated and fears lawyers' fees could wipe him out.

"It seems as if we will lose everything with the lawyers' fees alone but it is one of those things in life. That's just the way it is. There are worse things that could happen. You have got to keep things in perspective. At least I still have my family," said Mr Young.

His skills as a fund manager were widely admired by many of his colleagues and business contacts before he was suspended from his job last week. One described him as "incisive and focused".

But there have also been questions about his state of mind amid reports that he was suffering from an enormous amount of stress.

Mr Young has just moved into his five-bedroom home with his wife, Harmanna, and two children.

But investigators want to establish how he purchased the house as speculation mounted that he secured a loan against some of the firms that were listed in the funds' portfolio.

A Land Registry search shows that there is no mortgage attached to the property.

"I am worried we will lose the house. It's my pride and joy. We have only just finished having it redecorated. I don't want to go back to a three-bed semi," Mrs Young said.

"Last week I really felt the world was crashing in on me. But he keeps coming home saying we will be all right."

Mr Young is spending a great deal of time with his solicitors, City firm Peters & Peters, and could be sacked from his job next week. Morgan Grenfell Asset Management declined to respond to the suggestions made by Mr Young.

The firm's investigators are thought to be analysing the contents of a Jersey bank account which was held in Mr Young's name, and which could hold the key to the start of any criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

The account, held at Morgan Grenfell in Jersey, could show if he benefited personally from any of the complicated transactions he carried out. The SFO is being kept informed but has not begun an inquiry.

Brokers who carried out deals for Mr Young say they received confirmations of all his trades from Morgan Grenfell and also received instructions from Maurice Wheller, the custody official in Jersey.

No suspicion is attached to Mr Wheller.

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