Regulation  

Adviser banned after failing to declare income from side hustles

Adviser banned after failing to declare income from side hustles

The Financial Conduct Authority has banned an adviser from carrying out regulated activities after he understated his income by almost six times to HM Revenue and Customs. 

Anthony George, sole director of London advice firm 4Life Financial Planning, failed to declare his personal income in his self assessment tax returns over five consecutive tax years, from 2013-14 to 2017-18.

He then proceeded to conceal this by providing the FCA with information “which he knew to be false” during the first of two interviews he had with the financial watchdog, leading it to conclude George “lacks honesty and integrity”.

In a final notice published by the FCA, the regulator found George did not inform the accountancy firms which prepared and submitted his tax returns that he was receiving additional income alongside his 4Life earnings.

The regulator said the adviser ran two cash-in-hand businesses alongside his advice firm – a hair salon and a DJ business – as well as receiving rental income from letting out a room in his house.

The DJ business, which saw George charge a fee to DJ himself and to place other DJs, totalled an income of £40,360 during the tax years 2013-14 and 2014-15, before ceasing in 2016.

The hair salon, which George and a business partner purchased in mid-2015 and sold in May 2018, received income of £53,404 during the tax years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Whilst the rental income, which began at £647 per month and increased to £700 per month from June 2017, generated an income totalling £32,713 over the entire five-year period.  

As a result of understating his income, George did not pay the correct amount of income tax and received working tax credit which he was not entitled to, the FCA found. 

George appointed two accountancy firms concurrently. The first was not informed of all his earnings, whilst the second one was. 

He used the former’s calculations for his self-assessment tax returns to HMRC, and used the latter’s calculations - “on average almost six times greater” - to certify his income for the purposes of a personal mortgage application in January 2017.

George’s total income, as stated in his mortgage application, was some £367,757 greater than the income he declared to HMRC over the same three-year period. 

By submitting an income six times greater than the one he submitted to HMRC, George was able to remortgage his residential property and increase the amount of his mortgage from £349,281 to £630,000.

In his first interview with the FCA, George misled the watchdog by claiming the first accountancy firm was not qualified to certify his mortgage certificate, when in fact it was.

He also claimed to employ this second firm in 2016 for the purposes of his mortgage, rather than in 2014, and that he had informed the first accountancy firm of his DJ business and hair salon takings - despite a letter to the second firm stating the contrary, which the FCA secured before the second interview.