Angela Burns, a UK non-executive director (NED) has been fined £20,000 and banned from acting in that capacity by the Financial Conduct Authority for her failure to declare conflicts of interest in a case that has dragged along for 2 years.
The case began in 2012 and concerned Angela Burns role as NED at two mutual societies, positions she used for her own long-term benefits.
Burns was a NED at two mutual societies – Marine and General Life Assurance Society and Teachers Provident Society – from January 2009 until May 2011 and served as the chair of their investment committees.
Abuse of Trust
The FCA said Burns abused her position of trust when she advised the two firms to use Vanguard Asset Management as an asset manager but failed to disclose that she was in the process of soliciting a NED position and consulting work from Vanguard.
It also said she solicited work from Vanguard by referring to her NED positions at the mutual societies while she was providing them with what they believed was impartial advice.
FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward said directors have a duty to disclose or avoid conflicts of interest so they can be addressed by the board.
He added: ‘In this case, Ms. Burns placed herself in a position where her duty as a non-executive director may have conflicted with concurrent opportunities she was pursuing. This was neither disclosed nor, as a consequence, could it be addressed by the board. This was inappropriate and inconsistent with the standards of integrity expected from senior managers.’
A Costly Case
The decision, published on Friday, gave a final answer to a case Burns had fought for six years.
In 2012 the FCA (then the Financial Services Authority) banned Burns from acting as a NED and fined her £154,800. She contended the decision and referred the case to the Upper Tribunal in December 2012.
In December 2014, the Upper Tribunal concluded that Burns was not a fit and proper person to carry out the NED function but upheld only four of the 10 allegations against her. The FCA was also ordered to repay Burns £100,000 in legal costs after unreasonably reinstating an allegation during court proceedings that she sought corrupt payments.
In November 2015, the Upper Tribunal ruled the FCA’s initial fine was ‘wholly excessive’ and slashed it to £20,000.
Burns appealed the Upper Tribunal’s decision to the Court of Appeal in February 2015, but this was dismissed on 21 December 2017.
In January this year, Burns applied for permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court. On 27 November the Supreme Court issued an order refusing Burns’s application for permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision.
The FCA said the fine must be paid in full by no later than 28 December.