Woodford interviewed by investigators probing fund collapse

Neil Woodford has been questioned by investigators looking into the collapse of his investment fund, the financial watchdog has revealed.

The inquiry by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with sanctions and legal action not being ruled out.

In a letter to MPs, the regulator’s chief executive, Nikhil Rathi, said officials have spoken to 14 witnesses and all key interviews are now complete.

The regulator added that Woodford Investment Management Limited – Mr Woodford’s firm – does not hold a licence to sell investments to the public, following recent reports that the fund manager was considering a new venture.

In a letter to the Treasury Select Committee, Mr Rathi said it is too early to say whether further action will be taken against the fund or its bosses.

He wrote: “Like all investigations, further analysis and legal advice may well give rise to additional lines of inquiry and some witnesses may need to be re-interviewed.

“Subject to that, as well as an opinion from expert witnesses, we are confident the investigation work will be completed by the end of the year.

“I appreciate it may be frustrating that I am unable to provide further details regarding the investigation. However, it is necessary to preserve the confidentiality of the matters that are under consideration, in order for the investigation and any potential subsequent disciplinary process to be both credible and fair.”

Mel Stride, who leads the influential group of MPs, had written to the FCA in February asking for regular updates and a timescale for when its investigation would be completed.

Responding to Friday’s letter, he said: “Almost two years since the FCA launched its investigation into the collapse of the Woodford Fund, we’re yet to see any results, or be told when we can expect an indication of any findings.

“Whilst it is right that all due process must be followed, the longer the investigation goes on, the greater the sense of disappointment that will be felt by those who lost out.

“The Committee expects to be updated regularly by the FCA. We will consider the findings of the investigation when they are eventually published.”

Mr Woodford’s funds were closed to new investment in 2019 and have slowly started to be sold off to ensure investors got some of their money back.

The funds included the flagship Woodford Equity Income Fund, which was valued at around £3 billion before it was closed.

It ran into cash flow problems after deciding to put large portions of investors’ money into non-listed companies.

This meant that, when customers demanded their money, it was difficult to raise the cash fast enough.