By Daniel Hunter

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has banned and fined Londonderry-based mortgage adviser Gareth Flanagan £95,200 for personal mortgage fraud and regulatory failings.

He was the sole owner and director of GMF Marketing Services Limited (GMF), a small independent financial advice firm.
He was found to have submitted eight mortgage applications to lenders in his own name, containing false information over a two year period. The false information related to income declarations, residential and employment details, and information about the purpose of the mortgage.

Gareth Flanagan was also sanctioned for failing in his duty to oversee GMF’s compliance with regulatory requirements and standards. He failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that GMF did not submit false and misleading information to mortgage lenders about customers’ incomes. Also, he failed to establish and maintain adequate systems and controls at GMF to ensure it made suitable personal recommendations to its customers. Finally, the FSA found he didn’t ensure that the competence and performance of GMF’s advisers were adequately monitored.

He co-operated with the FSA's investigation and agreed to settle at an early stage.

GMF has retained its permission to do regulated business, as it is now controlled by a new set of shareholders and approved directors who are independent of Gareth Flanagan.

“It is not acceptable for mortgage brokers to disregard the requirements and standards of the regulatory system, which were put in place to safeguard consumers and markets," Tom Spender, the FSA’s head of retail enforcement, said.

"We have banned over 100 mortgage brokers in connection with mortgage fraud and we will continue to take strong action wherever we see this type of misconduct.”

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