Fake advisers banned in £24m pensions scam

FCA logo new 3 620x430Two non-approved persons who invested £24m in potentially unsuitable pension investments have been banned from working in the financial services industry by the FCA.

Mark Kelly and Patrick Gray, neither of who were FCA-approved persons, who operated under the name PCD Wealth and Pensions Management (PCD), have been banned from working in the financial services industry on the basis that they lack integrity.

Between 2008 and 2010 PCD invested over 350 customers’ cash in risky and potentially unsuitable investments without customers’ knowledge or consent and failed to declare fees received. The FCA says the process was designed to prevent customers from discovering where their funds had been invested and without any regard to the suitability of the investments for the customers.

Kelly also received some money from product providers taken directly out of customers’ investments, without their knowledge. He arranged for this to be paid directly into a bank account in his name.

Gray provided investment advice to at least five customers in the knowledge that he had no qualifications or training to do so.  In one case he gave unsuitable advice to a customer to invest in an unregulated collective investment scheme (UCIS).

Gray also recklessly provided customers with misleading information in relation to costs and charges and arranged for customers to sign incomplete investment forms despite being aware of the risk that fees could later be added to the forms and taken from customers’ funds without their knowledge.

Gray also gave customers pension reports containing false and misleading assurances that they would receive advice on their investments even though, from October 2009, he knew that funds were being invested without their consent or knowledge. He also misled the FCA in a compelled interview.

The FCA cannot fine either individual because they were not approved persons at the time of the misconduct. The FCA understands that further investigations are continuing.

FCA director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward says: “These two individuals misused pension funds, endangering the retirement incomes of hundreds of people. While further investigations continue, the FCA considers it necessary to prohibit them to help protect consumers.”