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needs to hold it­self to much higher stan­dards. The reg­u­la­tor can’t be pub­lish­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion – peo­ple rely on it.”

Gilbert West, of Fal­mouth, Corn­wall, lost £44,275 to fraud­sters in 2016 when he in­vested his pen­sion in a com­pany that pur­ported to be Horse­shoe Credit Union.

The re­tired pub­li­can, 69, had seen an ad­vert on­line and wanted to es­tab­lish whether the firm was le­git­i­mate, so cross-ref­er­enced the firm’s de­tails with the FCA reg­is­ter. It stated that the firm was au­tho­rised and ac­tive, de­spite the fact that the le­git­i­mate Horse­shoe Credit Union had been dis­solved in 2012. In­stead fraud­sters were us­ing the firm’s de­tails to steal money.

They were able to do this be­cause the FCA had failed to up­date its reg­is­ter to warn that the firm was no longer trad­ing. If it had done so, Mr West would have been able to tell that those pur­port­ing to be Horse­shoe were, in fact, not le­git­i­mate. The in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion had been listed on the reg­is­ter for more than four years.

Mr West’s pen­sion had been taken by con­men who then left the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the po­lice, leav­ing no prospect of the money be­ing re­cov­ered. He de­scribed his ex­pe­ri­ence as a “night­mare”.

He said: “This money was my lump sum pen­sion. All I wanted was some­where to in­vest it. I did all my due dili­gence and checked the firm’s cre­den­tials. It’s not that I put my cash some­where with­out check­ing.”

He com­plained di­rectly to the watch­dog, which up­held the com­plaint but said it ac­cepted no li­a­bil­ity for the loss. It of­fered him a mea­gre £150 in com­pen­sa­tion for its slow re­sponse to the com­plaint, but noth­ing for the er­ror it­self.

Mr West de­scribed this of­fer as “in­sult­ing” and es­ca­lated his griev­ance to the Com­plaints Com­mis­sioner. In a scathing rul­ing it said the reg­u­la­tor’s “se­ri­ous failings” had con­trib­uted to Mr West’s fi­nan­cial loss.

The com­mis­sioner, Antony Townsend, said: “This was more than a sim­ple over­sight. The record clearly shows that there was an aware­ness

of the sit­u­a­tion, but no ef­fec­tive ac­tion was taken un­til your com­plaint was lodged. Worse, the records I have stud­ied give me no con­fi­dence that the re­spon­si­ble de­part­ments un­der­stand the se­ri­ous­ness of the FCA’s failings.”

While the com­mis­sioner said the reg­u­la­tor should make a sub­stan­tial com­pen­sa­tion pay­ment, he did not spec­ify how much. The FCA then of­fered £22,138, just half the amount Mr West lost as a re­sult of the scam, which the com­mis­sioner said was rea­son­able.

Mr West said: “The FCA knew for four years that this com­pany had been dis­solved but did noth­ing. It’s un­be­liev­able. Ev­ery sin­gle in­vestor in the coun­try looks at the reg­is­ter – how many oth­ers on there are wrong?”

It is dif­fi­cult to es­tab­lish the ex­act num­ber of fraud­sters who have been able to take ad­van­tage of the FCA’s lax record keep­ing.

When asked by this news­pa­per, the reg­u­la­tor was un­able to say how many other peo­ple had lost money be­cause of its failings. It also could not es­tab­lish how many peo­ple had com­plained lained to it about mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion be­ing pro­vided on n the reg­is­ter.

The FCA said there here were 58,000 firms s listed on its reg­is­ter and d that en­sur­ing this in­for­ma­tion was ac­cu­rate was a pri­or­ity. It ad­mit­ted ed that its han­dling of Mr West’s case had ad been “un­ac­cept­able” ble” and said it had taken steps to en­sure such prob­lems proble would not arise in fu­ture. futu The Horse­shoe Horsesh case and the FCA’s re­sponse re­spo to it con­firm Mr Townsend’s Tow ear­lier warn­ings warn­ing that the watch­dog had shown s a “lack of em­pa­thy” when faced with com­plaints. com He said it was w clear that some staff within the watch­dog w did not un­der­stand the im­por­tance of keep­ing k the reg­is­ter reg­iste up to date. Mr West We has been left nurs­ing a loss of tens of thou­sands of pounds. His only re­main­ing op­tion would be to pur­sue le­gal ac­tion against the watch­dog, but he is un­will­ing to do so be­cause of the costs in­volved. He said the FCA was “not fit for pur­pose”.

Nicky Mor­gan MP, chair of the Trea­sury Com­mit­tee, said it was “con­cern­ing” that the reg­u­la­tor had in­for­ma­tion it did not act on.

She added: “This is not the first case of in­ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion on the reg­is­ter. The com­mit­tee will no doubt raise this is­sue with the FCA dur­ing its next ev­i­dence ses­sion later this year.”

Gilbert West lost £44,275 to scam­mers ers

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