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Unregulated advisers jailed for £145k gift aid fraud

HMRC Letter 480

Two unregulated financial advisers who fraudulently tried to claim almost £145,000 in gift aid have each been jailed for two years.

Raymond Agbo and Akua Owusu, who ran unregulated financial services firm Mondvi & Co, claimed fictitious UK taxpayers had donated to the Church of Grace Ministries UK. 

The pair processed a gift aid repayment claim for £144,800 through Mondvi & Co on behalf of the church. The claim was supported by false documents which cited the names and addresses of donors who did not exist.

Agbo and Owusu were sentenced yesterday at the Old Bailey, and both were given two year prison terms.

Handing down the sentence, Judge Marks QC said the pair had both “played an active part in the fraud…you have shown no iota of remorse for what you have done.”

HMRC criminal investigation assistant director David Margree says: “Agbo and Owusu had the financial knowledge to make a determined attempt to steal from honest people. They submitted the false claim knowing it was an abuse of a scheme designed to help charities in need.”

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Comments

There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Good to see fraudsters banged up for their theft, but a shame when this sort of thing happens as it blackens the name of our profession for us good guys (and gals). Still a few more bad apples who can no longer trade is always welcome news.

  2. If these two ran an “unreguated” firm then why are they referred to as financial advisers?

  3. Sad to see these guys discribed as ‘Financial Advisers’ as they were unregulated. MM should use a term such as ‘Fraudulent Thieves’ or something similar. Liz, these criminals were not part of our ‘profession’ and any unregulated adviser is up to no good.

  4. i agree, my first thought on reading the article was why call them financial advisers

  5. they were called financial advisers so we would look at the article and see all these lovely adverts moneymarketing are charging advertisers per view on ! hang on, doesnt that make our trade press commiting some form of missadvertising fraud ? maybe we should call them financial advisers too !

  6. Over what period did this go on? What role did the the regulators/authorities play?
    The regulated are hounded but call yourself “someone & co” and that is alright; you are unreglated so go about your fraudulent business as you will.

  7. I hope that this marks a change of attitude on behalf of the regulator to start clamping down on people giving financial advice without authorisation.

    I hope to see solicitors, accountants and even lead generation firms in the dock fairly soon as many of them operate without FSA authorisation.

    This is a very serious subject as many people and organisations are giving financial advice without authorisation.

    I for one welcome this prosecution but agree with others that they should not have used financial adviser in the article as they are simply fraudsters

  8. Certainly by the sound of these two names they have blackened the profession

  9. ‘Financial adviser’ is as much a question of fact as it is of styling. While giving most forms of financial advice requires authorisation, not all does (and let’s not forget all you network members out there aren’t authorised, you’re exempt). If someone’s doing it unlawfully they’re committing an offence, but they’re also still advising.

    I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of HMRC operating in the Gift Aid area…

    @SImple Truth: Bear in mind that solicitors and accountants can hold a DPB licence from their professional body for ‘incidental’ financial services and so don’t necessarily need full Part IV permission.

  10. I copied the below from the ICAEW and as you can see if a designated professional body gives detailed advice in investments it requires FSA authorisation. Incidental advice does not entitle that designated professional body offer wealth management services without authorisation. Incidental advice is stating that a pension or ISA is tax efficient – it isn’t giving a client a full report charging them a fee and asking them the setup the investments themselves.

    I could go on but I think you get the general idea!

    Three pieces of legislation:
    • the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000;
    • the Regulated Activities Order (Statutory Instrument 2001, No. 544) as amended; and
    • the Non-Exempt Activities Order (Statutory Instrument 2001, No. 1227) as amended
    determine whether – for the purpose of each investment activity undertaken – a firm needs to be authorised by:
    • the Financial Services Authority (FSA);
    • a designated professional body (DPB);
    • or whether no authorisation or licence is necessary.
    In order to conduct ‘mainstream’ investment business – for example, if your firm recommends the purchase of specific investments (eg, pensions, listed company shares) or approves financial promotions, – the firm needs to be authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
    In order to conduct ‘non-mainstream’ investment business – for example, if your firm advises on private company shares, interprets advice given to a client by an authorised person or takes part in discussions with a client and an authorised person – the firm needs to be licensed by ICAEW.
    If a firm has no authorisation or licence, the firm may not undertake any regulated investment business.
    Investment business also includes advice on mortgages and general insurance.

  11. It would be delightful to see a similar result for all of those who were instrumental in defrauding investors in the Connaught Income Fund.

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