The FSA today fined two accountants a total of £145,000 after an investigation into a boiler room share scam.
Paolo Maranzana was fined £105,000 and banned from working in financial services, whilst Laurence Finger was ordered to pay £35,000 and banned from working as a money laundering reporting officer.
Both were investigated for their role in a money laundering operation involving accountancy firm Sedley Richard Laurence Voulter (SRLV) and Natrocell Shareholders Ltd (NSL).
In 2008 SRLV, for which Finger was money laundering reporting officer, assisted NSL in fund raising by receiving and dispersing money through its client bank accounts and providing company secretarial and registrar services through its sister company.
NSL, for which Maranzana was relationship partner, used the services of overseas unauthorized share fraud operators to sell shares in itself to investors.
These share fraud operators or ‘boiler rooms' contacted 1,262 potential investors, and subjected some to high-pressure selling techniques, securing £2.5m which was then paid into SRLV bank accounts.
Later, on NSL instruction, large sums of money were paid as commissions to the boiler rooms.
The FSA ruled that Maranzana and SRLV continued to disburse money to the boiler rooms and associates despite warning signs of criminal activity at the firms.
SRLV was fined £163,140 while NSL went into administration in October 2009.
"Authorised firms and their employees have an important role to play in combating financial crime," says Margaret Cole (pictured), managing director of enforcement and financial crime at the FSA.
"This means that they cannot turn a blind eye when they see warning signs their clients might be involved in financial crime.
"In this case, the failures by SRLV, Finger and Maranzana to carry out their responsibilities had an impact on consumers who have probably lost their money by investing through boiler rooms."
An ambitious objective
'Something completely new'
'Illusion of control'
Reasons to be cheerful
Total investment reaches £9m