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FSA fines and bans two chartered accountants

The FSA has fined and banned two chartered accountants for legal firm Sedley Richard Laurence Voulters’ involvement with a boiler room scam.

Paolo Maranzana was fined £105,000 and has been banned from working in financial services, and Laurence Finger was fined £35,000 and has been banned from being a money laundering reporting officer. SRLV, which was authorised by the FSA, was fined £163,140.

Maranzana was the relationship partner for NS and Finger was SRLV’s money laundering reporting officer.

In May 2008, Natrocell Shareholders instructed SRLV to assist with fund raising by receiving and dispersing money through its bank accounts and providing company secretarial and registrar services through its sister company.

To assist with the fund raising, NS used the services of overseas firms, which were not authorised by the FSA, to sell shares in NS to investors. These firms were share fraud operators, known as “boiler rooms”.

The boiler rooms contacted at least 1,262 potential investors. They paid over £2.5m into bank accounts operated by SRLV and significant sums were paid out on the instructions of NS as commission to various boiler rooms rather than going to NS.

The FSA says the boiler rooms would not have been able to operate effectively without the help of SRLV.

Maranzana and Finger agreed to settle at an early stage and therefore qualified for a 30 per cent discount under the FSA’s executive settlement procedures.

FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole (pictured) says: “Authorised firms and their employees have an important role to play in combating financial crime. This means that they cannot turn a blind eye when they see warning signs that their clients might be involved in financial crime. In this case, the failures by SRLV, Finger and Maranzana to carry out their responsibilities had an impact on consumers who have probably lost their money by investing through boiler rooms.”

An SRLV spokesman says the issue was a one-off and the FSA has never called into question the honesty of the firm orMaranzana and Finger.

He says: “The FSA’s decision relates to events of two years ago in respect of Natrocell Limited.  It is a former client of the firm, for whom Paolo Maranzana, a former partner, had been responsible.

“The firm did not provide audit, accounting or taxation services to Natrocell during the period, only company secretarial services and access to a client account. The firm was not involved in the sale or promotion of shares.”

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Comments

There are 15 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. So having lots of exams didn’t stop these from ripping people off then.
    FSA please please take note!!!

  2. I’m nothing if not predictable but, WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO THEY HAVE? More than the MacDonalds diploma no doubt!!!

  3. Mmm……so ‘professionalism’ here didn’t help an awful lot with the ethics did it? I speak as one who is about 40 points from chartered and so have no personal axe to grind. I just think that if the FSA really that the RDR with increased qualifications will stop bad practice they are naive in the extreme. Standard of advice may gradually improve but not to the extent that justifies the cost in money and perfectly good advisers.

  4. Chartered Accountants are highly qualified and are typically paid by fees! I think that the people designing RDR could learn something from this.

  5. So do qualifications give you a more responsible
    professional?

  6. Two from Mr Hobans profession i believe ? Anecdotal but, qualifiions are no guarantee to any outcome other that of human nature which includes failure. The RDR is on target for cataclysmic failure.

  7. Good job they were qualified to “Chartered” standard then.
    Just goes to prove RDR qualifications will not drive out bad practice.

  8. Tee Hee. SRLV Accountants, Crown Currency, if you want to rob the public just get registered with the FSA, just make sure you do not register as an IFA.

  9. Chartered Accountants! One would have expected their higher qualifications, together with their professionalism to have resulted in a little less consumer dtriment.

  10. Chartered Accountants are highly qualified and are generally fee based. I think that there is a lesson here for anyone involved with the RDR debate!

  11. Proof if ever it was needed, that qualifications cannot, do not, and will not stop mis-selling if you’re that way inclined. With RDR forcing so many good quality IFAs out of the market, I really fear for the future of the industry. As I retire in 2012, it won’t affect me but my thoughts are with the many caring IFAs I have met who will have to cope with an ill-conceived, ill-thought out regime that is doomed to fail.

  12. But these are professionals and have passed exams …it can’t be!

  13. I don’t know what the complaints stats are for accountants but if you look at a similar professional body – solicitors I can tell you the Legal Complaints Service (LCS) are handling over 300 complaints a day: http://www.legalcomplaints.org.uk

    The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal’s (SDT – a division of the High Court) Annual Report to April 2007 revealed that up to 17,000 Solicitors per years were reported to the Law Society for action.

    When you bear in mind that the LCS can only look at a case against a solicitor within 6 months of the act being complained of and they can only investigate maladministration and fee disputes that’s a pretty high figure for a ‘fee-based expert’, especially when you realise that the IFA is subjected to an unappealable, compulsory, summary jurisdiction making awards as great as £150,000 and all with no protection from the Statute of Limitations and no 15 years long stop.

    Six years of exams and a very restricted complaint definition didn’t stem complaints against solicitors, so how come level 4 and RDR will stop IFA complaints many of which are instigated by retrospective reviews!

  14. A lot of comments making out that qualfications are a waste of time. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion then we should do away with exams all together and have no way of measuring standards therefore no qualifciations required for doctors,dentists etc. Making people do qualifications does not do away with bad and corrupt practitioners but it does stop anyone entering a profession anytime they want. I remember the days when a refuse technician could decide they wanted to be a financial advisor with no qualfications or experience whatsoever. The industry simply attracted people for the fast buck. Being Chartered has given me some pride in the industry even if I do not like the 2 faced FSA.

  15. Pissed off IFA, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that qualifications are a waste of time.

    What most of us are saying is that forcing the older members of our profession to take further qualifications is wrong, especially when the subject matter is full of questions which we have never met in practice.

    If we don’t take them, on 31/12/2012 we are fit and proper, but on 01/01/2013 we are no longer fit and proper. That is a farce. No other profession, including Doctors and Dentists has ever done this.

    What is worse, it is being done at a time when the FSA is supposed to be defunct (if the Government keeps its pre-election promise) AND it is being railroaded through, even though the FSA Board nearly scrapped it and it’s being done at a time when the public most needs IFAs.

    Justify that…

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