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UK slaps £75m fine on 'death bond' salesman

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Visitors walk up a staircase as a logo sits on a sign in the reception area of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the Canary Wharf business district in London, U.K., on Thursday. Nov. 21, 2013. The FCA is working with regulators including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to investigate the potential manipulation of the foreign-exchange market. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Visitors walk up a staircase as a logo sits on a sign in the reception area of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the Canary Wharf business district in London, U.K., on Thursday. Nov. 21, 2013. The FCA is working with regulators including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to investigate the potential manipulation of the foreign-exchange market. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Bloomberg

Visitors walk up a staircase as a logo sits on a sign in the reception area of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the Canary Wharf business district in London, U.K., on Thursday. Nov. 21, 2013. The FCA is working with regulators including the U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to investigate the potential manipulation of the foreign-exchange market. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Britain's financial regulator yesterday announced a decision to fine the boss of a firm which sold so-called "death bonds" £75m (€105m), the biggest penalty it has ever handed to an individual.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would impose the fine upon Stewart Ford, former chief executive of Keydata Investment Services.

It also handed fines of £4m and £200,000 respectively to Mark Owen, former sales director at Keydata, and Peter Johnson, its former compliance officer, and said the individuals would be banned from roles in the regulated financial services market.

The decisions are pending an appeal by the individuals to the Upper Tribunal, an independent judicial body which reviews cases when firms or individuals are unhappy with the FCA's decision.

Around 30,000 people, mainly pensioners, ploughed over £450m into Keydata Investment Services, which offered death bonds in Britain and was shut down by the regulator in 2009, after many investors lost much of their life savings. Death bonds, or traded life insurance policies, are high-risk investments which depend in part on the death of the original insurance holders, often long lived wealthy former professionals living in the United States.

The FCA said the products were sold to customers as if they were eligible for inclusion in Britain's tax-free individual savings accounts (ISAs), when in fact that were not allowed to be held within such products.

Irish Independent