Ex-World­spreads chief Fo­ley faces ¤730,000 fine

The Irish Times - - Business News - JOE BREN­NAN

The UK Fi­nan­cial Con­duct Au­thor­ity said yes­ter­day that it was seek­ing to fine the for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of col­lapsed spread-bet­ting firm World­spreads, Conor Fo­ley, £658,900 (¤730,160) for mar­ket abuse and to ban him from per­form­ing any roles in a reg­u­lated fi­nan­cial firm.

World­spreads, founded by the Ir­ish man, floated on the Lon­don AIM mar­ket in Au­gust 2007. The Dublin-based busi­ness col­lapsed with debts of £32 mil­lion in 2012 after the dis­cov­ery of fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. Spread bet­ting al­lows play­ers to bet on the move­ment of stock mar­ket in­dices, share prices, com­mod­ity val­ues, currencies, as­set val­ues and sports re­sults.

The FCA’s so-called de­ci­sion no­tice, which is es­sen­tially a pro­posal, on Mr Fo­ley will now come be­fore an in­de­pen­dent ju­di­cial body, known as the Up­per Tri­bunal, where both sides will present their cases. The tri­bunal will ul­ti­mately de­cide on the mat­ter and re­fer this back to the FCA for fi­nal ac­tion.

Mr Fo­ley, through a spokesman, said that as he had the right to ap­peal, he would not be com­ment­ing at this time.

The FCA said it con­sid­ered that World­spreads’ flota­tion doc­u­ments, which Mr Fo­ley was in­volved in draft­ing in 2007, “con­tained mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion and omit­ted key in­for­ma­tion that in­vestors would have needed to make an in­formed de­ci­sion about the com­pany”.

In par­tic­u­lar, the doc­u­men­ta­tion did not men­tion that some World­spreads ex­ec­u­tives had made sig­nif­i­cant loans to the com­pany and its sub­sidiaries that were never dis­closed in an­nual ac­counts, it said.

The FCA al­leges that be­tween Jan­uary 2010 and March 2012, “large spread bets” were placed on World­spreads’ shares by ac­counts of clients on terms that went against credit pol­icy of the group.

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