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Equilibrium's finance and investment news roundup

Our roundup this week includes news of Barclays facing fraud charges relating to its fundraising during the financial crisis in 2008, a new report highlighting a widening wealth gap in the UK over the past decade, a warning that workers may not be taking advantage of pension top-up schemes offered by employers, and new research revealing the UK's investment fraud hotspots.


Barclays faces fraud charges in Qatar case

Barclays and four former executives are facing charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and the provision of unlawful financial assistance in relation to the bank's fundraising activities during the 2008 financial crisis.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced it was charging the bank following a high-profile investigation into undisclosed payments made to Qatari investors. The four former staff members, including former Chief Executive John Varley, will face Westminster magistrates in early July.

Barclays said: "The charges arise in the context of Barclays' capital raisings in June and November 2008. Barclays awaits further details of the charges from the SFO." 

Resolution Foundation: Wealth gap has increased over past decade

A new report from the Resolution Foundation has revealed that the wealth gap in the UK has widened over the past decade.

The findings showed that while 1% of adults own 14% of the nation's assets, 15% either have no assets to their name or are in debt. The foundation found that the proportion of property wealth owned by the bottom four-fifths of adults increased to 40% in 2005 from 35% in 1995, but warned this could drop again due to a steady fall in home ownership. 

Workers 'not taking advantage of employee pension top-ups'

Workers are losing out by saving at a minimum level and failing to take advantage of pension top-ups from their employers. This is according to new research from Royal London, which claimed employees are unaware of many firms' offers to match any extra pension savings they make.

By matching this additional saving, employers are effectively adding a further contribution when workers choose to save more. This contribution, Royal London says, could earn workers hundreds of pounds in retirement income.

Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London, commented: "At a time when money is tight for many people and pay rises may be limited, getting your employer to contribute more to your pension can be a very cost-effective strategy." 

UK investment fraud hotspots revealed

New research from Which? has revealed the UK's fraud hotspots, with Surrey identified as the number one location for investment scams.

The report, which was compiled using thousands of fraud reports obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also revealed the Northamptonshire is the UK's online shopping and action fraud hotspot, while Dorset is the capital of computer virus, malware and spyware fraud.

Gareth Shaw, Money Expert at Which?, said: "The Government needs to set out an ambitious agenda to tackle fraud, while law enforcement agencies need to be working harder to identify and protect the people most at risk from fraud."


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