The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has banned Michael Thommes, former managing director of Dorset-based mortgage broker General Finance Centre (GFC), for failing to stop the firm being used as a vehicle for fraud.
The regulator has banned Thommes from holding any significant influence functions after finding he failed to put in place adequate controls against fraud at the firm, which is now liquidated.
The FSA said a significant proportion of GFC’s files contained ‘blatant inconsistencies’ regarding income, occupation and other relevant information, but these were not picked up by Thommes or others at the firm.
Thommes also failed to adequately oversee the conduct of the firm, monitor staff or ensure that GFC’s charging structure was fair to customers.
In particular, the FSA said, GFC did not communicate clearly to customers how much they were being charged, and failed to address the regulator's concerns after they had been brought to his attention.
Bill Sillett, FSA head of retail enforcement, said: ‘While we did not find that Thommes personally committed mortgage fraud, his failure to put in place adequate controls meant his firm was used by others for this purpose. Thommes’ conduct was significantly below what we would expect from someone in his position, particularly since the failings were brought to his attention by the FSA and he did not take adequate steps to address them.'
‘As a managing director, Thommes failed to fulfil his role and meet his regulatory obligations. Although Thommes is not currently involved with regulated mortgages, it is appropriate to ban him from all significant influence functions in order to protect consumers and the industry.’
GFC was dissolved on 19 February 2011, after being placed into liquidation on 24 November 2008. The FSA issued a decision notice against Thommes in July 2011.