The British Financial Conduct Authority has commenced civil proceedings in the High Court against Paul Steel and Jacqueline Foster. It has secured an interim injunction from the judge which freezes £7 million of their assets, pending a further hearing.
The FCA alleges that Estate Matters Financial Ltd (in liquidation) has failed to comply with the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 by providing unsuitable defined benefit pension transfer advice, leading consumers to exit defined benefit pension schemes when it was not in their best interests to do so. It says that Steel, who was Estate Matters Financial’s director and co-owner, was knowingly concerned in those contraventions.
The regulator also claims that Steel broke its rules by doing various things that resulted in the removal of Estate Matters Financial's assets, leaving it unable to meet potential liabilities for unsuitable advice, while enabling Steel to retain the significant profits that accrued from the provision of that advice and from continuing fees.
The judge also issued an injunction against Ms Foster on the basis that she may be holding or controlling assets owned by Mr Steel.
The FCA is asking the High Court to make a restitution order requiring Mr Steel to compensate consumers who have suffered losses as a result of receiving unsuitable pension transfer advice. No trial date has been set.