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Directors' disqualifications follow FCA action in pensions cases

Posted on 9 January 2023

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On 8 December 2022, the Insolvency Service disqualified Aiden Henderson, Andrew Page and Thomas Ward, as directors following their roles in pension mis-selling which took over £44 million from would-be investors.

The mis-selling took place between January 2014 and July 2015, initially whilst Henderson worked at Henderson Carter Associates Ltd and subsequently when Page and Ward both worked at Financial Page Ltd. Henderson and Page were both IFAs, and Ward was found to have acted as director (although not registered as such).

They all advised clients to transfer their pensions funds into Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) but failed to adequately explain to clients that their money was subsequently loaned to high-risk investments based in Mauritius, and therefore not subject to regulation by UK authorities. Following a trial, 10-year disqualification orders were made against Page and Ward; Henderson gave a 10-year disqualification undertaking.

The FCA's outcomes preceded the Insolvency Service's. On 16 May 2022, following a determination by the Upper Tribunal, the FCA issued final notices to Henderson, Page and Ward, fining and prohibiting each of them. The Upper Tribunal strongly criticised the behaviour of all three. It dismissed the references with regard to the prohibition order and it set the appropriate penalties.

Comment

This is a good, although perhaps unsurprising, example of the multi-agency jeopardy that wrongdoers can be subject to.

The FCA has been proactively scrutinising pension transfer advice firms for some time. The FCA's Dear CEO Letter dated January 2020 made clear that "too much [defined benefit pension transfer advice] is still not of an acceptable standard". In its DB transfers multi-firm review update dated June 2020, the FCA identified material information gaps, suitability and PII as key problem areas. In the Regulatory Initiatives Grid dated May 2022, the FCA set out that it is now in the enforcement action stage in relation to pension transfer advice. We should expect to see more of it coming through.

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