Broker punished for misleading customers

A stockbroker who used high-pressure sales tactics to persuade clients to invest in high-risk shares in small firms has been fined and banned indefinitely.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) handed Mohammed Suba Miah, 28, who worked for Square Mile Securities, a £21,000 penalty and banned him from selling shares or giving advice to investors.

Last month, Square Mile was fined £250,000 for using high-pressure tactics and misleading consumers. Its fine would have been much higher but the regulator relented when it was shown the broker could not afford to pay.

Mr Miah joined the firm in September 2003, two months after it opened. The FSA said that out of 50 Square Mile share trades that it had investigated, Mr Miah was responsible for 19. He and a colleague earned just over £8,000 in commission from these sales.

The FSA said Mr Miah had used "unacceptable sales practices that applied high and undue pressure on customers to make immediate investment decisions". In one instance, he phoned a customer six times in three days, pressuring him into a £15,000 purchase. He contacted another investor 13 times in just eight days.

Square Mile gave Mr Miah "insufficient" information to give a share recommendation to consumers, the FSA added. But his penalty was also discounted because he co-operated with the investigation. Had he not done so, Mr Miah would have been fined £30,000.

'The Independent on Sunday' exclusively revealed last month that the FSA has been routinely discounting fines levied on firms and individuals by an average of 30 per cent. In total, around £4m has been slashed from FSA penalties since the start of 2007.