Advisers fined £885,000 and banned

According to an enforcement notice from the City watchdog, 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 misled clients as investments they recommended were affected by the economic downturn.

Mr Bentley-Leek and Mr Dervish were fined £525,000 and £360,000 respectively, substantial fines for individuals which reflect the seriousness of the breaches and the need to deter others.

The FCA has also cancelled the permissions of Bentley-Leek Financial Management, which is now in liquidation.

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Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the regulator, said: “Many consumers committed their life savings or their pensions to these property investments as they trusted Mr Bentley-Leek’s and Mr Dervish’s advice.

“The least consumers should expect from those they turn to for investment advice is honesty and integrity. Mr Bentley-Leek and Mr Dervish fell far short of our expectations, they failed their customers and further tarnished the name of the financial services industry.”

Ms McDermott said the FCA was “determined to stamp out such behaviour”, and expressed a hope the “sanctions should send a clear message to others who might be tempted.”

The detail:

Between 5 March 2004 and 23 November 2010 Bentley-Leek and Dervish advised more than 300 customers to invest more than £35m in a series of property developments. According to the FCA, the pair told some clients that their money and a 6 per cent to 18 per cent return on the investment was guaranteed. Some investors were told that returns of up to 50 per cent could be expected. The duo also failed to adequately inform investors that they were directors and owners of some of the property companies they were advising clients to invest in, which created a conflict of interest, the FCA said.