Two advisers banned over property investment
Mark Bentley-Leek and Mustafa Dervish, who were both directors of Bentley Leek Financial Management, were found by the regulator to have lacked integrity and to have misled clients as property investments they recommended were affected by the economic downturn.
The FCA has also cancelled the permissions of Bentley-Leek Financial Management, which is now in liquidation.
Between 5 March 2004 and 23 November 2010 Bentley-Leek and Dervish advised over 300 customers to invest over £35m in a series of property developments in the UK and abroad.
Despite the riskiness of the investments they were selling, the pair told some of their clients that their money and a 6%-18% return on the investment was guaranteed.
Some investors were told that returns of up to 50% could be expected.
Bentley-Leek and Dervish also failed to adequately inform investors that they were directors and owners of some of the property development companies they were advising clients to invest in, which created a conflict of interest.
By June 2009 both men were aware that the property investment companies were in difficulty, with the market falling and bank lending seizing up. Despite that they continued to advise clients to invest. Within 17 months, however, Bentley Leek Financial Management was in administration and had entered insolvency by November 2011.
Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime said: “Many consumers committed their life savings or their pensions to these property investments as they trusted Mr Bentley-Leek and Mr Dervish’s advice.
“The least consumers should expect from those they turn to for investment advice is honesty and integrity. Bentley-Leek and Dervish fell far short of our expectations; they failed their customers and further tarnished the name of the financial services industry.”
Bentley-Leek and Dervish have been fined £525,000 and £360,000 respectively. The fines would have been £750,000 and £450,000 respectively had Bentley-Leek and Dervish not settled at an early stage of the Authority’s investigation.