Keydata boss considers appeal over £76m fine

Keydata boss considers appeal over £76m fine

The former chief executive of failed investment firm Keydata is considering whether to appeal a court's decision to uphold the £76m fine imposed on him by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Stewart Ford said he did not agree with the decision and said he had been the victim of a "grave injustice".

He said: "My honour, my good name, my competence and my integrity have been impugned."

Mr Ford added: "I am considering my position. Having gone through what I have, I am not necessarily sure [an appeal] will happen but it is obviously available.

"The way they have painted me is like the pantomime villain in this an it is unacceptable."

In 2014 Mr Ford, who headed up Keydata when it collapsed in 2009 at a cost of hundreds of millions of pounds to the industry in compensation to investors who lost their life savings, was fined and banned by the FCA while former Keydata sales director Mark Owen was fined £4m and banned as well.

On Tuesday (November 6) the Upper Tribunal upheld the FCA's action against Mr Ford and Mr Owen and ruled both had acted without integrity and had failed to deal with the City watchdog's predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, in an open and cooperative way.

As a result Judge Roger Berner directed the FCA to fine Mr Ford £76m and Mr Owen £3.2m and agreed both should be prohibited from performing any role in regulated financial services.

Mr Ford said he resigned from Keydata in 2007 and left the country but the FCA put him "front and centre of everything in that business that was wrong".

Addressing the investors who lost money, he said: "When people lose money it is a tragic situation. There is nothing I could do, there is nothing anyone could do. I am terribly disappointed for them.

"The only reason they lost money was because the FCA interfered with it and I am sorry that happened as well."

In his ruling Mr Berner said Mr Ford's conduct demonstrated a "consistent failure by him to act with integrity in carrying out his controlled function".

Keydata Investment Services designed and sold life settlement policy-based investment products to retail investors via independent financial advisers.

Products were underpinned by investments in bonds issued by Luxembourg vehicles SLS Capital and Lifemark.

From December 2005 to June 2009, more than 37,000 investors purchased the products, investing more than £475m.

In the Lifemark Bonds alone, £373.2m was invested by 30,906 retail customers, via IFAs.

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme has subsequently made payments to investors in the products of more than £330m.

The FCA said that over the three years from 2009, Mr Ford was able to extract fees from the structure totalling around £73.3m.

Mr Berner said: "Mr Ford extracted substantial fees from both the SLS and Lifemark structures which could not be justified commercially."