Accountants banned by FSA over boiler room scam

Accountants banned by FSA over boiler room scam

Paolo Maranzana and Laurence Finger, of Sedley Richard Laurence Voulters, banned and fined by the FSA over boiler room client

TWO ICAEW chartered accountants were fined and banned by the Financial Services Authority for their involvement in a boiler room scam.

Paolo Maranzana and Laurence Finger, of Sedley Richard Laurence Voulters (SRLV), were fined £105,000 and £35,000 respectively for their involvement in the scam. Maranzana was banned from working in financial services while Finger was banned from serving as a money laundering officer. The firm, which is authorised by the FSA, was fined £163,140.

SRLV was appointed by client NSL to assist a fund-raising by receiving and dispersing money through the client’s bank accounts, and provide secretarial services to the client’s sister company.

NSL used overseas entities to sell shares to investors, but the entities were share fraud operators who subjected more than 1,000 potential investors to high-pressure selling techniques in so-called “boiler rooms”.

They paid more than £2.5m into the bank accounts operated by SRLV, with significant sums paid back to the boiler rooms rather than going back to the client NSL.

Boiler rooms would not be able to operate effectively without the assistance of firms such as SRLV, said the FSA.

Despite warning signs of possible financial crime, SRLV continued to disburse money to the boiler rooms.

“Authorised firms and their employees have an important role to play in combating financial crime. This means that they cannot turn a blind eye when they see warning signs that their clients might be involved in financial crime,” said FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole.

“In this case, the failures by SRLV, Finger and Maranzana to carry out their responsibilities had an impact on consumers who have probably lost their money by investing through boiler rooms.”

Maranzana and Finger agreed to settle at an early stage and therefore qualified for a 30% discount under the FSA’s executive settlement procedures. SRLV also settled at an early stage.

The investigation was carried out with the close cooperation of the City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate.

A spokesman for Sedley Richard Laurence Voulters said: “The FSA’s decision relates to events of two years ago in respect of Natrocell Limited. It is a former client of the firm, for whom Paolo Maranzana, a former partner, had been responsible.

“The firm did not provide audit, accounting or taxation services to Natrocell during the period, only company secretarial services and access to a client account. The firm was not involved in the sale or promotion of shares.

“We would like to stress that the FSA makes it clear that the honesty of the firm, and its managing partner Laurence Finger and former partner Paolo Maranzana has never been called into question.

“Sedley Richard Laurence Voulters has recently undertaken a thorough review of its systems with the assistance of external advisors. A robust procedure has now been implemented to ensure that there can be no repeat of this one-off issue.”

Update 17 Dec, 9am

The ICAEW refused to comment on the case involving Paolo Maranzana and Laurence Finger. However, it confirmed that under institute bylaws a  guilty verdict in a regulatory procedure under the Financial Servioces and Markets Act “shall be conclusive evidence of misconduct”.

 

 

 

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