Keydata founder Stewart Ford has protested his innocence after a court ruling gave the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) the green light to fine him £76 million, saying he has been the ‘victim of a grave injustice’.
Ford (pictured) has complained that he has been ‘the subject of a concentrated and sustained attack’ by the regulator which ‘failed, miserably, to provide me with a fair and balanced investigation’, adding that the Upper Tribunal has ‘now compounded that injustice’ with its decision yesterday.
Last year the FCA had announced that it decided to fine Ford £75 million and former Keydata sales director Mark Owen £4 million.
In a ruling yesterday, the Upper Tribunal decided to increase the penalty to £76 million because it was determined that the financial benefits Ford received needed to be adjusted.
The court also said it found that Ford ‘actively concealed material matters from investors, IFAs and the Authority.’
But Ford said he does not and ‘cannot agree’ with the Upper Tribunal’s decision, adding that he is ‘as disappointed with the Upper Tribunal as I am with its decision’.
He said: ‘Without infringing the law or my conscience, I say and believe that I have been the victim of a grave injustice.
‘For those who truly know me, you will be aware that this decision of the Upper Tribunal runs counter to every fibre of my being. My honour, my good name, my competence and my integrity have been impugned.’
Keydata sold structured products to retail customers. The FCA found that in 2005 it started marketing products on bonds issued by Luxembourg-based SLS Capital without conducting proper due diligence and by using misleading brochures.
A year later, the same was done with Lifemark SA, a company beneficially owned by Ford. Through these arrangements Ford received £73 million in fees over the years.
Ford said it has been ‘widely accepted’ that Keydata, its investors and himself were ‘victims of a very sophisticated fraud in respect of the SLS products’, and that there were ‘no risks’ associated with the Lifemark portfolio.
He added: ‘…prior to the wrongful intervention of the Financial Services Authority in June 2009, all of Keydata’s Lifemark Products had performed as forecast and all obligations to Keydata investors had been discharged in full and on time.’
Keydata entered administration in 2009 over tax debts incurred when the regulator at the time deemed it had mislabelled products as ISAs.
An investigation following the collapse revealed that £103 million of investors’ money which was supposed to have been invested in life settlement funds through SLS Capital had disappeared.
Ford has been fighting the fine imposed by the FCA and had a £600 million claim against the regulator dismissed back in 2016. Ford also sued his lawyer for £4 million claiming that he helped contribute to the collapse of the company.