Bra tycoon Baroness Mone has come under fire for her new virtual currency venture she claims will be the ‘British Bitcoin’.
The Scottish businesswoman, 46, is officially launching the ‘Equi’ coin on March 15. A pre-sale on Thursday has already asked supporters for a minimum investment of £72,000 ($100,000).
But her and boyfriend Doug Barrowman, 53, who is also in on the plans, have been slammed by experts after it emerged the currency will not be regulated and could see backers lose everything.
Glasweigan-born Michelle Mone (pictured) became one of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs in history after founding Ultimo lingerie brand, which developed the silicon-padded bra
According to The Sunday Times, the scheme is not signed up to the Financial Conduct Authority, who are now being urged to step in.
The couple are not selling the new product to the US either as their business model could breach American restrictions, reports the newspaper.
China has banned any new virtual currencies and countries like Russia, India and Bolivia also have strict laws, meaning they won’t be able to sign up.
John Mann, Labour member of the Commons’ Treasury select committee and MP for Bassetlaw has slammed Baroness Mone’s plans.
He said: ‘You would be better going off to the bookies than investing in this scheme.’
Theresa Burton, chief executive of FCA-regulated, peer-to-peer lenders Trillion Fund, is also skeptical.
The Scottish businesswoman and her partner (pictured left) have been slammed by experts after it emerged the virtual currency they are launching will not be regulated and could see backers lose everything
She told The Times: ‘They may have found some loophole that allows this, but it should be a regulated activity. The government and the FCA have to wake up and look at this.’
Glasweigan-born Michelle Mone became one of Scotland’s most successful entrepreneurs in history after founding Ultimo lingerie brand, which developed the silicon-padded bra.
She was made a Conservative Peer in the House of Lords in 2015 by former Prime Minister David Cameron and now advises on a range of business topics.
She and her partner Mr Barrowman founded Equi Capital in the hope that backers will buy coins, which they can sell on digital currency exchanges and make money to invest in the business’s capital projects.
In a promotional video she insists: ‘As an entrepreneur I fully understand what it takes to build a successful company.’
Coins are 36p each, but the couple hope it will make £58,000 ($80,000). There will be 250 million tokens available when the project launches later this month.
John Mann, Labour member of the Commons’ Treasury select committee and MP for Bassetlaw has slammed Baroness Mone’s plans. She is pictured in the House of Lords
Experts fear Equi coins could turn out to be worthless, meaning they won’t make enough money to invest in capital projects or return any profit.
Equi insists what they are doing does not require regulation and is ‘completely transparent’.
A spokesman told the newspaper: ‘We have always taken the view, and our legal advice has supported that view, that [the initial coin offering] did not amount to a financial promotion requiring approval by an authorised person.’
MailOnline has approached Mone for further comment.
The FCA said it could not comment on the particular case but warned against unregulated, high-risk and speculative investments.
Last month Baroness Mone was forced to defend her record in the House of Lords.
Stewart McDonald, SNP MP for Glasgow South, tore into her on Twitter for not asking any questions during her two and a half years in the Chamber.
But Baroness Mone hit back branding the politician a ‘moron’ and pointing out she has voted 78 times.
Bra tycoon Baroness Mone (pictured) is launching a virtual currency called ‘Equi’ with her boyfriend Doug Barrowman