The Financial Conduct Authority has fined two advisers £28,000 each and banned them from performing accountable significant influence functions at any FCA-regulated firm over their involvement in failed Ucis investments.
The regulator says John Leslie of Battersea and Jeffrey Bennett of Harrow held controlled functions at two London-based financial advisory firms, Leslie & Nuding (now known as Leslie & Swallow) and Burlington Associates Limited.
During 2005, Leslie & Nuding and Burlington assisted in the promotion of three Ucis to retail investors in the UK. Over 800 people invested around £30m in the three Ucis, which subsequently failed.
The FCA says Leslie and Bennett were responsible for overseeing the regulated activities of their respective firms and monitoring compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements.
The regulator found that Leslie and Bennett failed to exercise due skill, care and diligence in their positions. It says they did not identify the extent to which their firms were involved in promoting the Ucis and failed to detect the risk that the Ucis were “routinely being promoted to ineligible consumers”.
FCA head of retail enforcement Bill Sillett says: “The lax attitude of Leslie and Bennett to their duties was particularly unacceptable when you consider that their firms were involved in promoting the Ucis to thousands of mainstream retail consumers.
“This is another example of why we are toughening the rules around how such schemes can be promoted.”
Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “The FCA simply does not like Ucis. If you have regulatory responsibility for an advice company and your firm is advising on Ucis, the oversight has to be precise because the consequences of failure are severe.”