On 29 April 2013, Michael Joseph James Lewis (a former mortgage broker) appeared at Medway Magistrates Court to face criminal charges brought against him by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). He was committed for trial at Maidstone Crown Court for 3 counts of Assisting a Fraud by False Representation (s44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 and s2 of the Fraud Act 2006), and 13 counts of Breaching the General Prohibition (s19 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, an offence under s23 of the act).
Mr Lewis had been subject to a ban from carrying on regulated activities in the UK since 9 August 2011, as a result of FSA enforcement action.
This prosecution is unusual in that, under the FSA, a breach of the General Prohibition (carrying on a regulated activity in the UK by a person who is not authorised or exempt) tended to result in a warning, after which most entities would stop the activity or apply for authorisation. In this case, a breach has resulted in criminal prosecution.
While it is possible that the FCA has chosen to prosecute these breaches because it considers them to be in flagrant disregard for the FSA's ban, or because of the connection with the fraud charges, it may also herald the start of a more aggressive approach to the enforcement of the General Prohibition. Which of these is the case will become apparent as more enforcement action is taken by the new regulator.