UK watchdog bans former WorldSpreads CEO for market abuse

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Wednesday it had censured and banned Conor Foley, the former chief executive of financial spread-betting firm WorldSpreads, for market abuse.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seen at the agency's headquarters in the Canary Wharf business district of London April 1, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

The watchdog said Foley had provided evidence that a proposed 658,900 pounds fine set out in July would cause financial hardship.

“Accordingly the FCA has imposed a public censure in lieu of the financial penalty,” it said. Foley has withdrawn a formal challenge to the FCA’s enforcement findings, it added.

Foley has also been banned from performing any roles linked to activity regulated by the FCA.

Now defunct WorldSpreads had sales offices across Europe.

“Mr Foley misled investors in the WorldSpreads Group and manipulated the market for its shares in a concerted and deliberate scheme. He should have no place in UK markets,” said FCA executive director of enforcement Mark Steward.

Foley was involved in drafting documentation ahead of WorldSpreads’ flotation on the London Stock Exchange in 2007.

The documentation contained misleading information and did not mention that some of the WorldSpreads’ executives had made significant loans to the company, the FCA said.

The watchdog had already fined and banned WorldSpreads’ chief financial officer Niall O’Kelly and its financial controller Lukhvir Thind in 2017 for falsifying critical financial information.

“By 31 March 2011, these misstatements amounted to 15.9 million pounds... which ultimately led to its collapse,” the FCA said.

($1 = 0.7727 pounds)

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Potter