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DB transfer duo faces court action over unsuitable advice

UK regulator secures asset freezing order for up to £7m

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has commenced civil proceedings against Paul Steel and his wife Jacqueline Foster in the high court.

Steel ran advisory firm Estate Matters Financial (EMF), which is currently in liquidation.

The regulator alleges that the firm contravened several requirements under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, by providing unsuitable defined benefit (DB) pension transfer advice.

It also said that this led to clients exiting their DB schemes “when it was not in their best interests to do so” and Steel, who was EMF’s director and co-owner, “was knowingly concerned in those contraventions”.

The FCA added: “It will also be alleged that Steel breached FCA requirements by undertaking a course of conduct which resulted in the removal of EMF’s assets, leaving it unable to meet potential liabilities for unsuitable advice, whilst enabling Steel to retain the significant profits that accrued from the provision of that advice, and from ongoing fees.

“An injunction was obtained against Foster on the basis that she may be holding or controlling assets owned by Steel.”

She was not involved in the advice process.

Asset freeze

As a result, the FCA secured an interim decision freezing the couple’s assets for a value of up to £7m ($10m, €8m), pending a further hearing.

The regulator is seeking a restitution order requiring Steel to compensate clients who suffered losses following the unsuitable pension transfer advice.

A date for the trial is yet to be set.

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