FSA fines Derbyshire firm £97,600 over UCIS Failings (Article by Bob Langstone in MoneyMarketing on 15.02.2012)

15 Feb

The FSA has fined Derbyshire firm Topps Rogers £97,600 for failings related to its unregulated collective investment schemes.

The fine was imposed for failings relating to the FSA’s management and control and relationship of trust principles.

It has also cancelled its Part IV permission, meaning the firm is no longer directly authorised.

According to the regulator, Topps Rogers conduct fell below the “standards and requirements of the regulatory system”, specifically those in connection with its investment business between 2004 and 2010.

It says the firm failed to take “reasonable care to ensure that its recommendations relating to Ucis were suitable for its customers”.

The regulator says there were a number of failings relating to the promotion and recommendation of Ucis.

The firm was also alleged to have failed to put adequate compliance arrangements in place.

The regulator claims the firm promoted and advised 94 customers to invest more than £12m in Ucis, directly or through a Sipp or wrap platforms.

“A number of Ucis that Topps Rogers’ customers invested in have been suspended or wound up, resulting in potential financial losses for customers,” the regulator reports.

“The situation was aggravated by the fact that customers were advised by Topps Rogers to invest large proportions of their investment portfolios in Ucis. In some instances, customers were not aware that they had invested in Ucis or of the associated risks.”

The regulator had earlier withdrawn the approval of Martin Rigney, “the only adviser and partner” at Topps Rogers, prohibiting him from performing any regulated activity “on the grounds that he is not a fit and proper person”, which has been deferred to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber).

Rigney had been approved to perform a number of functions since 2002, with the firm having voluntarily modified its permission to stop arranging new business connected with Ucis in 2009.

The firm later varied permissions to prevent it from carrying on any of the regulated activities in its permission in 2011, before it was put into liquidation later that year.

The fine consists of a punitive element of £70,000 and disgorgement of financial benefit of £27,600, relating to commission payments on “obtained by Topps Rogers for arranging eight unsuitable Ucis sales”.

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