Woodford and partner bagged £13.8m in year before empire collapsed

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Disgraced money manager Neil Woodford and his business partner pocketed £13.8 million in dividends in the financial year before the crisis that led to the demise of his fund empire.

The dividend haul was revealed in accounts filed with Companies House for Woodford Investment Management for the last full financial year before the suspension of the flagship equity income fund in June.

Mr Woodford received nearly two-thirds of the payout – around £9 million – for the year to March 31, thanks to his 65% ownership of Woodford Investment Management.

Chief executive Craig Newman picked up £4.8 million.

The pair also bagged £36.5 million the previous year.

It comes as at least 300,000 investors remain trapped in Mr Woodford’s Equity Income Fund, which is finally being wound up from January 18.

Woodford Investment Management is also being wound up, marking the end of the fund manager’s once glittering career as a star stock picker in the UK.

Reports recently revealed that Mr Woodford and Mr Newman have flown to the Far East to meet Chinese investors in an attempt to gain backing for a new business.

The dividend payouts were made despite a dire performance by the flagship fund, which saw investors quit in droves, sparking the fund’s suspension in the summer and one of the biggest investment scandals in recent memory.

The accounts show that Woodford Investment Management’s pre-tax profit more than halved to £18.4 million in the year to March 31 2019, from £41.7 million in 2017-18.

Bottom-line profits slumped to £16.3 million from £33.7 million the previous year.

In the accounts filing, the firm blamed the “under-performance in the Woodford Equity Income Fund combined with a period of sustained and negative press coverage” for the fund’s suspension.

The suspension came after investors tried to cash out too quickly.

The fund had invested in illiquid assets which were difficult to sell off quickly, making it vulnerable when investors tried to withdraw their cash.

The City watchdog has since announced that it is looking at new rules to prevent funds invested in illiquid assets from allowing daily withdrawals.

The Financial Conduct Authority is mulling changes that could mean investors who want to cash out within one day may have to take a discount on the money they want to withdraw.

Investors in the Woodford Equity Income Fund are set to receive the first payouts when it winds up soon – more than six months after it was first gated.

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