May 9, 2019 / 1:03 PM / 15 days ago

British regulator to fine, ban bosses and firms over pension advice

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s financial regulator plans to fine and ban five investment company bosses, alleging their reckless behaviour prompted more than 2,000 people to invest 76 million pounds in risky and unsuitable pension products.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said on Thursday it also planned to fine investment company Bank House Investment Management just under 312,000 pounds and publicly censure two other companies, Financial Page Ltd and Henderson Carter Associates, which are both now in liquidation.

Financial Page director Andrew Page and Thomas Ward, who the FCA called an unapproved “de facto” co-director, Henderson Carter director Aiden Henderson and Bank House bosses Robert Ward and Tristan Freer face fines of between 52,725 and 416,558 pounds, the FCA said.

The five company directors and Bank House are challenging the decision by appealing to the Upper Tribunal, which hears such disputes, the FCA added. The tribunal has the power to overturn FCA decisions or impose tougher penalties.

Robert Ward said in an email that it would be inappropriate to comment “save as to say that the matter would not be referred if we were in agreement with what the regulator has said”.

Legal representatives for the men and companies were not immediately available for comment.

The FCA said the companies outsourced functions to unauthorised third parties, leading to recommendations that clients switch and transfer pensions to high risk, illiquid and unsuitable products.

Around a thousand customers have so far received 26.8 million pounds from the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), Britain’s safety net and compensation fund of last resort for customers of regulated businesses.

The FSCS is investigating further claims.

The FCA has been cracking down on the pensions market to avert scams following changes in the law in 2015 that made it possible for people to cash in their pension pots rather than waiting for retirement.

Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mark Potter

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