A multimillionaire banker described as “the biggest fare dodger in history” was banned for life from working in financial services yesterday, as he claimed he had failed to pay for train tickets on only “a small number of occasions”.
Jonathan Burrows, 44, who was managing director at the US-owned asset management company BlackRock until he resigned in August, was said to have avoided paying a total of £42,550 by exploiting a loophole for about six years.
He regularly commuted from the unmanned station at Stonegate, East Sussex, to London. But instead of paying the daily fare of £21.50, he boarded the train without buying a ticket and then used the London transport system’s Oyster card to pass through the barriers, when he was automatically charged the maximum fee of £7.20.
Mr Burrows, who owned two homes in the country worth £4m and earned up to an estimated £1m a year, was stopped by a ticket inspector at the exit gates of Cannon Street station last November and paid up in March in an attempt to avoid publicity.
However the story emerged in April and British Transport Police then contacted the rail operator Southeastern and began a criminal investigation. The married father-of-one quit his job in August after being suspended by BlackRock.
An investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that Mr Burrows was not a “fit and proper” person to work in the investment industry. Tracey McDermott, the watchdog’s director of enforcement and financial crime, said yesterday: “Burrows held a senior position within the financial services industry. His conduct fell short of the standards we expect. Approved persons must act with honesty and integrity at all times and, where they do not, we will take action.”
However Mr Burrows insisted yesterday that he had overpaid when he reimbursed the rail company.
“I have always recognised that what I did was foolish. I have apologised to all concerned and reiterate that apology publicly today,” he said in a statement. “The settlement I made with Southeastern in March 2014 was for an amount significantly in excess of the value of the fares not paid by me on the small number of occasions that I failed to pay.
“Indeed the size of the settlement could be said to have led to a distorted perception of the scale of my wrong-doing. However, that does not change the fact that what I did was wrong, and I accept that.
“In view of this, I have been told by the British Transport Police that they do not regard it as being in the public interest to pursue a case against me.”
Mr Burrows said he “respected” the FCA’s decision, but added: “I also regret it, coming as it did after a 20-year career in the City that was without blemish.
“I recognise that the FCA has on its plate more profound wrongdoing than mine in the financial services sector, and I am sorry that my case has taken up its time at this critical juncture for the future of the City and its reputation.”
BlackRock said in a statement: “Jonathan Burrows left BlackRock earlier this year. What he admitted to the FCA is totally contrary to our values and principles.”
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