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FCA hits London adviser with £350k fine for mis-selling unregulated property funds

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29/08/2014
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined the director of a London advice firm £350,000 and banned him from practising for mis-selling high risk unregulated collective investment schemes (UCIS).

Craig Cameron of Burlington Associates was found by the regulator to lack honesty and integrity in relation to the promotion of three UCIS to retail investors.

Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said:”Cameron deliberately flouted regulatory requirements, which were designed to safeguard retail investors, in favour of selling high-risk UCIS for potentially lucrative gains.

“The UCIS have failed and the investors, many of whom should never have been exposed to these high risk investments in the first place, have paid a heavy price for his actions”.

Cameron was a director of Burlington between May 2003 and January 2009.

In early 2005, Cameron helped to set up three high risk UCIS investing in new property developments in Croatia, Bulgaria and Montenegro.

During 2005 the UCIS were promoted to thousands of retail investors without adequate checks being made to ensure the investors were eligible for these promotions.

Over 800 consumers invested around £30m in the three UCIS, which subsequently failed.

Cameron wanted to involve Burlington, an appointed representative of a network at the time, in promoting and selling investments in the UCIS.

However, Burlington’s network principal prohibited these activities.

Cameron arranged for a separate advisory firm, Leslie & Nuding – trading as ‘Burlington Funds’ and now known as Leslie & Swallow – to take responsibility for checking investors’ eligibility and sending out promotional materials.

In reality, a firm under Cameron’s control carried out the vast majority of these activities.

Cameron made Burlington and staff under his direction instrumental in every stage of promoting and arranging investments in the UCIS. This was a deliberate breach of the agreement between Burlington and its principal firm.

Cameron knew that his activities created a risk of the UCIS being sold to investors for whom the products were not suitable.

He recklessly devised a structure that was likely to provide false assurance that Burlington’s involvement was authorised. Due to his lack of honesty and integrity, Cameron has been now fully banned and fined.

The FCA has previously taken action against two other individuals – Jeffrey Bennett and John Leslie – for failing to oversee adequately the roles of their firms in the UCIS sales.

Any consumers who had dealings with Cameron, Burlington Associates or Leslie & Nuding / Burlington Funds in relation to these UCIS investments may need to seek independent advice about their rights and options.

 

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