Two former financial advisers have been sentenced to a total of more than two years in jail after being convicted of giving unauthorised investment advice.
Gary Hexley and John Cooper, former directors of West Midlands-based financial services firm Weston Financial Services, were convicted last month of giving investment advice without authorisation and concealing information from their clients in a prosecution brought by the FCA.
In their sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court today, Hexley was given two years in prison and Cooper was given nine months in prison.
The FSA banned and publicly censured Hexley from working in financial services in June 2011 for giving unsuitable investment advice. The ban related to investments set up through Hexley’s property development company Greenfield International in 2003, and investment advice he gave at Exclusive Asset Management between January 2009 and May 2010.
Hexley continued to provide investment advice, and dishonestly hid his lack of authorisation, bankruptcy and FSA ban from his clients.
Hexley and Cooper were arrested in November 2011.
The FCA says Hexley also dishonestly concealed from his clients that their funds were destined for the Metatron Global Fund, a start-up fund based in Mauritius with no track record and a high risk investment.
Last month Cooper was convicted of advising a client to invest £160,000 in the same fund without authorisation and dishonestly concealing Hexley’s prohibition.
Hexley was convicted of one count of giving investment advice without authorisation and five counts of dishonestly concealing material facts from his clients. He was acquitted of one count of each charge.
Cooper was convicted of one count of giving investment advice without authorisation and one count of dishonestly concealing material facts from clients, and acquitted of three counts of concealing facts from his clients.
FCA director of enforcement and financial crime Tracey McDermott says: “This is a fitting punishment for two people who thought they were the above the law.
”As has been demonstrated with these sentences, where individuals pose a serious risk to consumers and bring the reputation of the industry into disrepute by flouting rules and guidance, we will not hesitate to take the strongest action.”