FCA work in review March 25 – April 5, 2024

Some meaty enforcement cases, plus guidance on using finfluencers.

The FCA has been taking a closer look at the UK motor insurance market and has found evidence that “some firms are offering their customers less than their written-off or stolen vehicle is worth”. What’s more, those offers are only increased if a customer complains.

The comments come after the regulator carried out a multi-firm review into insurer’s valuation of vehicles.

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director, Consumers and Competition at the FCA said: “Having your vehicle written off or stolen can be intensely stressful and we expect firms to offer the right support to help their customers.”

“We expect all motor insurers to take note of our findings and we are engaging directly with those that have issues that need to be addressed.”

The FCA also referenced the requirement under Consumer Duty 2023 to ensure good customer outcomes are at the heart of the business.

A mortgage fraud totalling £3m ($3.79m) has led to prison sentences for two men, Larry Berretto and Tassib Hussain.

Barreto was sentenced to a total of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 120 hours of unpaid work, for 11 counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of carrying on regulated activities without authorisation.

Mr Hussain was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 120 hours of unpaid work, for one count of fraud by false representation relating to 11 mortgage applications.

Between January 2015 and March 2018, Barreto gave mortgage advice without FCA authorisation in return for a fee. In 11 cases, he inflated the applicant’s income in their application to the lender. He then paid Hussein to produce fake HMRC documents.

The FCA said: “As a result of the fraud, lenders granted mortgages to several applicants on a false basis, placing them and their customers at greater risk beyond financial loss. The total value of the mortgages applied for was around £3 million.”

Therese Chambers, Joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said: “Larry Barreto and Tassib Hussain chose a selfish path in pursuit of their own greed. Their dishonesty unnecessarily put people at risk of taking out unaffordable loans and losing their homes.”

Confiscation proceedings have been begun.

Stuart Bayes, a site manager at UK plastic manufacturer RPC Group Plc (RPC) has been found guilty of two offences of insider dealing following an eight-week trial at Southwark Crown court in London.

Through his job, he obtained confidential information that RPC was about to acquire British Polythene Industries (BPI). Ahead of the market announcement, Bayes carried out a number of aggressive share trades, eventually making a profit of £132,000 ($167,000). He also encouraged another individual, Jonathan Swann, to trade.

Swann was found not guilty of insider trading. Bayes will be sentenced on April 26.

At a previous trial in 2022, a jury failed to reach a verdict in the case, with the FCA pursuing a retrial which began in February 2024.

Steve Smart, Joint Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said: “ A senior staff member at a listed company abused his position for personal profit. Such conduct undermines financial markets and public trust in them.”

Former customers of SO FX Ltd have been encouraged to contact the firm’s liquidators, Evelyn Partners, if they think they have a financial claim.

Court approval has been granted for the FCA to recover £1.6m ($2.02m) from Argento Wealth Ltd (AWL) and its sole director Daniel Willis.

The FCA alleged that AWL unlawfully:

  • took approximately £2.8m ($3.54m) as deposits under loan agreements and/or as part of an unauthorized collective investment scheme;
  • arranged investments in EMB Fund Limited (EMB) totalling about $9m which breached the restrictions on financial promotion.

The regulator alleges Willis knew about this unlawful activity.

AWL and Mr Willis have not admitted any of the FCA’s allegations that led to the proceedings, but have agreed to pay money to the FCA intended for the eventual distribution to investors.

Further court hearing are scheduled to decide on detail of fund distribution, a process that is expected to take a significant amount of time.

Rules and consultations

The annual review of the memorandum of understanding for payment systems in the UK between The Bank of England (BoE), the FCA, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has been carried out.

The authorities concerned have concluded that the MoU is working well. Areas for future focus include “revisions to the MoU regarding proposed stablecoin regulation, embedding the reforms from the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023 (FSMA 2023), as well as further enhancing the sharing of information and data.”


A guidance statement on the use of social media to promote financial services has emphasised the need for adverts and promotions to be “fair, clear and not misleading”.

There is particular emphasis placed on the use of ‘finfluencers’, with a reminder that “firms are on the hook for all their promotions” and that “promoting a financial product without approval from an FCA-authorised person with the right permission could be a criminal offence”.

Lucy Castledine, Director of Consumer Investments at the FCA, said: “Promotions aren’t just about the likes, they’re about the law. We will take action against those touting financial products illegally.”

And the FCA said: “Social media will not always be the best place to promote complex products. Firms need to consider whether a platform that offers limited characters or space is the right place to do so.”