£30k fine and ban for financial adviser who faked qualifications
An alcoholic financial adviser based in Newtownards has been banned and fined nearly £30,000 for faking his qualifications.
In a damning report, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Darren Cummings of DCC Financial - which had been based in Upper Movilla Street - "poses a risk to consumers and to the integrity of the financial system".
Cummings had produced two bogus statements of professional standing, claiming they were issued by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).
The watchdog said he fabricated the documents to mislead the regulator into believing he was fully qualified to provide investment advice.
It added that Cummings never held the qualifications required to be a retail investment adviser and had never been issued with a statement of professional standing (SPS). He was issued with a penalty of £29,300 and banned from carrying out regulated activity.
"The authority considers that Mr Cummings lacks honesty and integrity and, therefore, is not a fit and proper person," the FCA said.
The report added: "Mr Cummings does not hold (and has never held) the requisite qualifications to be a retail investment adviser and has never been issued with an SPS by the CII or any other accredited body."
It said he had "acted dishonestly" and "knowingly made numerous false and misleading statements to the authority concerning his qualifications and experience".
The FCA rejected Cummings' excuse that his alcohol dependency and mental health problems had not properly been taken into account when dealing out his punishment.
"The authority does not dispute that Mr Cummings experienced mental health and alcohol dependence issues during the relevant period," the watchdog said. "However, the authority considers its conclusion that Mr Cummings acted dishonestly is appropriate notwithstanding his mental health issues.
"The breach was a sustained course of action, committed in a conscious effort to deceive the authority in order to obtain approval of the variation application and hence to expand Mr Cummings' business and to increase his income."
A phone number listed for DCC Financial did not appear to be working last night.