IFA director banned over missing £4m

Added 30th November 2016

The director of a bankrupt UK-based IFA firm, who also ran a trading room, has been disqualified for eight years for failing to account for more than £4m ($4.9m, €4.6m) of client’s money, the Insolvency Service has revealed.

IFA director banned over missing £4m

James Lau, also known as James On-Loon Lau, ran financial advisory firm WFM Management Services and sister company GG Blue Sky, which operated as a derivatives trading room.

Both companies went into liquidation in September 2013 with an estimated deficit of £7.8m.

Following an investigation, the Insolvency Service (IS) has banned Lau for failing to provide adequate explanation of more than £4m deposited in Blue Sky accounts and more than £500,000 in WFM accounts between 1 January 2012 and 17 September 2013.

Most of the money allegedly came from client’s pensions and other investment management, however the IS said “it has not been possible to explain who these monies belonged to or where they went.”

This failure to maintain, preserve or deliver up records has meant many of firm’s clients “out of pocket”, confirmed the watchdog.

Neither could the records explain what happened to properties purchased by Lau for over £600,000 or the £41,300 in payment made to an internet gambling site.

Rob Clarke, group leader of insolvent investigations north, said: “This failure to maintain, preserve or deliver up records is totally unacceptable, especially where creditors and shareholders are owed substantial amounts, and potential assets were not preserved or disclosed for realisation by the liquidator.

“The Insolvency Service has ensured that such behaviour will not be tolerated and that robust action will be taken against directors where misconduct is found.”

The ban means Lau is  disqualified from managing, or in any way controlling a company, or being a director until 15 December 2024.

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Monira Matin

Senior Reporter

Monira joined International Adviser in March 2016 from Informa Global Markets where she worked as a eurobond reporter for over two years, covering fixed income markets. She has previously held a number of editorial positions covering politics, insurance and technology. Monira has a degree in Journalism and Economics from City University.

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