Premier FX were operating a Ponzi style scam based on push payment fraud for 8 years while registered and authorised by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority as a Payments Services Institution and being “robustly and rigorously verified” under the FCA’s due legal authorisation process and annually monitored. The firm was already operating fraudulently and unsafely and indeed failed all conditions, bar one, to be a safe payments institution when first authorised by the FCA in 2013. PFX was then reauthorised in 2018 under the new stricter international payment service rules (PSD2, 2017) eight weeks before they collapsed stealing clients’ money worth £12m.
The firm was applauded as a British success story by the UK-Portugal Chamber of Commerce, British Consul and DTI representatives in Spain and Portugal while, in reality, the firm had been operating a scam from 2006. The firm held 74 bank accounts in Barclays London and the Barclays Account Director disappeared on indefinite leave within days of the fraud discovery and has since left the country. The bank has blocked all account staff from being interviewed and sent the transactions in an unusable format despite modern financial systems technology. Premier FX registered its accounts of under £3m per year while moving more than one billion sterling. How does this happen? The victims followed the FCA’s ScamSmart advice and used a British registered FCA Payments Institution and still had their money stolen.
When not meeting with the FCA, and other parties to negotiate for money to be returned Pauline is also
Co-founder and Partner in an aerospace firm providing management and technical services to the aerospace and communications industry.
Pauline welcomes the opportunity to assist the Transparency Task Force in making financial services easier to understand and regulate safely. She believes the consumer is prey to extensive bad practice in the financial services sector and this is accepted, even supported by the Treasury, FCA and Banks and despite independent reports recording severe economic harm and desperate failings by the regulator and banks to follow due legal statutory processes, the calls for change in policy and practice have been dangerously underwhelming.
Pauline believes the financial services and market act needs to be tightened as banking culture is allowing key principles to be evaded. The accountability & liability of the Regulator needs to be changed as it is currently unenforceable which allows the Regulator to fail with impunity. The processes of adequately protecting the consumer under the FSMA and the Payment Service Regulations need to be legally defined and enforced. The key question is by whom and will it be allowed to be enforced?