Pearl fined £100,000 over share scheme delays

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The Independent Online

Pearl, the UK financial services brand which now belongs to AMP of Australia, has been ordered by the financial regulator to pay out around half a million pounds in fines and compensation because its staff were too slow in carrying out a share-dealing service for customers.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said yesterday that two Pearl companies, Pearl Unit Trusts Limited and Pearl Assurance, faced a total of £100,000 in fines. They have already paid £345,854 in compensation to 1,617 customers. The companies will also pay the regulators' costs of £18,343.

Pearl was found to have been unacceptably slow in selling shares as part of its Sharewise scheme that it had in place between October 1993 and April 1999. The scheme was a share exchange service that sold clients' shares without commission and invested the proceeds in a product offered by Pearl.

"The delays in carrying out customer orders were caused by the late submission of documents to the head office by the Pearl salesforce," the FSA said in a statement.

Pearl apologised to its customers and said the problem had now been eliminated. "Immediate action was taken to report the matter to Imro. As a result, processes have been improved and the problem eliminated," said a spokeswoman.

The FSA said yesterday's action was taken under the rules of two of its subsidiaries - the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation (Imro) and the Personal Investment Authority (PIA). Pearl Unit Trusts has been given a £65,000 Imro fine and Pearl Assurance a £35,000 PIA fine.