Fimbra suspends two men over Cyprus bank account

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The Independent Online
TWO of the three directors of Bankhall Investment Management of Altrincham, Cheshire were suspended yesterday because of a dispute involving Clerical Medical International and a National Westminster Bank account in Cyprus, writes Paul Durman.

Fimbra, the financial regulator, suspended Paul Hogarth and David Warnock while it investigates the transfer of investment funds to the Cyprus account 'in circumstances which make it difficult to value those funds'.

Fimbra is allowing Bankhall to continue its investment business under close supervision. Martyn Weaver, Bankhall's third director, previously worked for Fimbra as a senior regulatory enforcement official.

Mr Warnock said that money invested with CMI was transferred to the NatWest account in June. He would not say why, nor disclose how much was involved. 'We have done nothing wrong,' he said. 'No clients' money is at risk whatsoever. We know we will be exonerated.'

CMI grew worried shortly after the transfer and is believed to have shared its concerns with Fimbra. Mr Warnock said: 'We have issued proceedings against (CMI) for defamation. We refute all claims made by them. The damage to our business could be really substantial.'

CMI is the large and rapidly growing offshore arm of Clerical Medical, the mutual life office. CMI won the Queen's Award for exports last year.

Mr Warnock said the company that transferred the money was under the full control of CMI which could not be contacted yesterday evening.

Bankhall has 11 registered financial advisers.