Regulator punishes three BPS directors for financial irregularities

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has banned three directors of a London-based insurance business, BPS Insure Limited, for failing to inform the FSA that BPS had a deficit of approximately £3 million in its client account and had misused client money.

Chief executive, Robert James, and directors Stuart Lawton and Paul Adams, all worked at BPS until it went into administration. Months before, during a routine visit, the FSA discovered that all three had continually failed to admit to the deficit from the time when they originally applied for authorisation until the date of the visit.

They had also used client money in January and February 2005 to pay BPS’ general expenses, further increasing the deficit.

The FSA established that all three men knew that they should have informed the regulator about the deficit and that they were misusing client money. No clients were directly affected, but there was a risk that the directors’ actions could have left clients without the cover they had paid for.

Jonathan Phelan, head of retail enforcement, said: “The directors of BPS acted recklessly and without integrity. They failed to ensure that clients’ money was adequately protected and undermined consumers’ confidence in the insurance sector.

“Senior managers must recognise their responsibilities – they are personally responsible and the FSA will take action against directors who fail to act appropriately when carrying out their regulatory functions.”

James, Lawton and Adams have all been banned from certain regulated financial services functions, including senior management.