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Investment adviser spouses banned over hidden millions

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Investment adviser spouses banned over hidden millions

A husband and wife team of investment advisers has been banned by the regulator for hiding huge sums of wealth from investigators probing the winding down of their previously bankrupt firm.

Colette Chiesa was additionally fined £50,000 over her attempt to mislead investigators from the Financial Conduct Authority, while they investigated her and her husband John Chiesa.

The FCA took action following the closure of their firm Westwood Independent Financial Planners, which in 2011 was fined £100,000 over multiple failings in how it sold traded endowment policies.   

The couple continued to hold ‘significant liabilities’ under the terms of the compensation ordered paid by the Financial Ombudsman Service. But the FCA found they had made ‘inadequate, incomplete and misleading’ disclosures of their assets in order to avoid handing over their cash.

Between July 2011 and July 2013 the couple spent an average of £6,000 a month on a lavish lifestyle, funded from an undisclosed offshore company, while servicing their liabilities with just £200 a month.

‘The Chiesas misled their creditors, especially the FSCS, in a calculated way,’ said Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement at the FCA.  

‘Their misconduct demonstrates a serious lack of integrity.’  

The trust paid out a total of around £2.6 million between April 2012 and December 2014, at an average rate of over £84,000 a month.

These payments were structured as loans with the apparent intention that they would never be recouped, the FCA said. 

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