Dishonest mortgage broker disqualified for 10 years following DTI investigation

Amanda Jarvis

October 18, 2004

Stuart Ronald Horwell, director of Rugby-based Homewatch UK Limited, gave misleading advice to around 85 customers, promising they could significantly reduce the interest they paid on their mortgages. In reality, customers were likely to end up with substantial debts at the end of their mortgage if they followed Mr Horwell's advice.

Investigators from the DTI's Companies Investigations Branch uncovered a series of dishonest and irregular business practices. Between August 2001 and June 2002 Homewatch had no professional indemnity insurance in place, despite assurances to customers that it did, and the company could not account for £50,000, much of which was diverted into Horwell's personal bank account.

Following an application by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the High Court made an order disqualifying Mr Horwell for engaging in deceptive and dishonest mortgage brokerage service. Mr Horwell did not defend the proceedings.

Consumer Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said:
“The long disqualification period shows how seriously the court takes this sort of deceptive activity. This result should serve as a reminder to dishonest business people that they need to be looking over their shoulders, because DTI investigators will track them down and use all means possible to put them out of action for a long time.”

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