Minerva, based in South Wales, was investigated by the Companies Investigation Branch of the Insolvency Service and found to have lured clients through “unsubstantiated and over-inflated claims” about the shares it sold.
The firm, which was not authorised by the FSA, sold shares in two main client companies, Magna Group plc and Metal Innovations Holdings plc.
It raised over £7.5m in sale proceeds, of which Minerva retained £3.8m by way of commissions and “dubious investor relations services”.
Magna was wound up in the High Court in July 2009 following a separate investigation.
The Insolvency Service says Minerva failed to keep adequate records showing how many shareholders had bought shares, targeted prospective clients through cold calling approaches and made misrepresentations about the value of the business of Magna and its future growth prospects.
The investigation also found Minerva failed to pay tax, paid unexplained kickbacks, allowed its assets to be used for the personal benefit of a director and was insolvent.