Vroni O’Brien used inaccurate client money calculations for broker Joint Aviation when she did not understand the rules
The FCA has fined insurance broker Vroni O’Brien £20,000 for causing her broker Joint Aviation to misuse insurance premiums and client money.
As a result the FCA has also withdrawn her approval to perform any significant influence functions in relation to any regulated activity carried on by an authorised person.
O’Brien was appointed as chief executive of Joint Aviation in 2007.
Between 1 April 2011 and 30 June 2012 Joint Aviation received £2.7m of client premiums into its Sterling client account and earned £460,433.14 commission
In the same period Joint Aviation transferred £538,797 from the client account to its business account - transferring £78,363.86 more than the broker was due in commissions.
The insurance premiums that were misapplied were then used to pay the business expenses of Joint Aviation.
The FCA said that O’Brien created and used inaccurate client money calculations for Joint Aviation, when she did not understand the relevant rules and requirements in relation to those calculations.
She also failed to use information available to her to ensure that Joint Aviation was only transferring money from one of its client premium accounts to Joint Aviation’s business account that was properly due to it in commission earned,.
This resulted in Joint Aviation improperly applying insurance premiums paid by Joint Aviation’s clients to Joint Aviation for insurance cover, for the broker’s use.
And even after she was made aware of a client money shortfall in February 2012, she continued to transfer more money than the broker was due in commission from one of Joint Aviation’s client premium accounts to Joint Aviation’s business account.
On 23 February 2012, Joint Aviation’s accountants informed Joint Aviation that a client money shortfall existed.
On 7 March 2012, Joint Aviation’s accountants notified the Authority of the client money shortfall at Joint Aviation.
By June 2012, Joint Aviation owed £150,253.81 to insurers in relation to net outstanding insurance premiums for policies arranged with those insurers. Joint Aviation did not have the necessary client funds to pay those liabilities, largely because of the misapplication of client premiums.
On 6 July 2012, following a meeting with the FCA, Joint Aviation stopped trading. Following this, on 9 July 2012, Joint Aviation’s client base and insurance book were sold to another firm.
As a result of the sale, Joint Aviation rectified the client money shortfall and no customers or insurers suffered a loss.