Broker banned for £400,000 con
An insurance broker who conned customers out of nearly £400,000 has been banned by the financial regulator.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) says Mark Hazelwood, director of Synergys Ethical Limited from Whitwell in Hertfordshire, failed to pass on £360,000 in customers’ insurance premiums – instead keeping the money for himself.
Hazelwood’s business provided insurance for locum doctors from across the UK. He was investigated by the FSA after one customer attempted to claim on a policy, but failed to receive a payment.
Search warrants for Hazelwood’s residential and business addresses uncovered documents regarding a new unauthorised business called Aquote. Evidence showed that Hazelwood had failed to pass on a further £25,000 of customers’ premiums to insurers.
In October 2008, the FSA took action to stop Synergys’ regulated business and issued a consumer alert warning that the firm was no longer permitted to conduct any regulated activities and may have failed to pass on clients' premiums to insurers.
Hazelwood has now been banned from performing any regulated activity in the financial services industry as he “lacks the honesty and integrity required to hold this type of position”.
Hertfordshire Police, Fraud Squad are currently conducting their own investigation into Hazelwood and his business activities.
“Hazelwood deliberately and dishonestly deceived his customers into believing they had purchased insurance policies when in fact he kept their premium payments himself,” says Margaret Cole, director of the enforcement and financial crime division at the FSA.
The Financial Services Authority is an independent non-governmental body, given a wide range of rule-making, investigatory and enforcement powers in order to meet its four statutory objectives: market confidence (maintaining confidence in the UK financial system), financial stability, consumer protection and the reduction of financial crime. The FSA receives no government funding and is funded entirely by the firms it regulates, but is accountable to the Treasury and, ultimately, parliament.