The Financial Conduct Authority has censured money transfer company Horn Express for failing to safeguard and segregate customer funds.
Horn Express, formerly known as Qaran Express Money Transfer, would have been fined £136,687 had it not provided evidence of serious financial hardship.
The censure is the first time a public sanction has been imposed on a payment institution under the Payment Services Regulations for misconduct.
Qaran Express’ customers used its services to transfer money overseas from the UK. Between December 2009 and August 2011, Quaran Express mixed customer funds with its own monies in the same bank account. It also failed to accurately record how much of the money in that account was customers’ funds.
From December 2009 until December 2011 Qaran Express also failed to properly reconcile the customer funds held in its bank account.
Its bank account was also set up incorrectly, and was not labelled as a customers funds account, which the FCA says created the risk that in the event of Qaran Express’ insolvency customers might have lost money.
FCA head of retail enforcement Bill Sillett says: “This case, which is the first of its kind, demonstrates we will take action where breaches are identified. It is not acceptable that customers’ monies are put at risk by firms, whether in the financial services or payment services sector, and we will take action to tackle this.”