James Richardson 'attempted to mislead FSA', regulator claims

The FSA has banned James Richardson, former Chief Executive Officer of Insure & Go Insurance Services, for attempting to mislead the FSA and for not being candid in his dealings with the firm's former auditors.

The regulator said Richardson failed to act with integrity and is prohibited from performing significant influence functions in relation to any regulated activity.

In September 2004 Richardson told Insure & Go's auditors that Insure & Go was using a Gibraltar-based travel club scheme to limit the firm's liability for Insurance Premium Tax (IPT). In support of this Richardson provided the auditors with an agreement dated 9 January 2003. In November 2004 Richardson told Insure and Go's auditors that the agreement had not been in existence in 2003.

In fact the Gibraltar Scheme did not operate until 2004 and then only to an ineffective standard, the FSA said. Later Richardson provided information about the Gibraltar Scheme to the FSA purporting to show that the Gibraltar Scheme had operated from 2002.

FSA Director of Enforcement Margaret Cole said: "It is crucial that Chief Executive Officers and others with significant influence over the operations of firms display integrity and are candid and open with their auditors and with regulators. Mr Richardson failed to meet this requirement and has been banned. This sends out a message that the FSA will take strong action in future cases of this kind."

Insure & Go, based in Southend, Essex, is a medium-sized general insurance intermediary providing travel and other general insurance products to consumers via the internet and telephone. It began trading in January 2001 and has since grown rapidly - gross premiums were approximately £50 million for 2005/06.

Richardson previously performed the controlled functions of Director and Chief Executive and held joint responsibility for Apportionment and Oversight. He resigned his directorship of Insure & Go on 3 July 2007 together with his controlled functions.

The FSA is not pursuing any disciplinary action against Insure & Go and accepts that no customer detriment has been suffered as a result of Richardson's misconduct.