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Stewart Ford: Rise, Fall, and Legal Battles of a Financial Mogul

Stewart Ford: Rise, Fall, and Legal Battles of a Financial Mogul

  • Kamran Imtiaz

Ford has an illustrious career spanning over 35 years as a businessman, venture capitalist, entrepreneur, mentor, and philanthropist. He has worked in a variety of industries, such as fintech and renewable energy. A successful career that has included managing structured investments, renewable energy projects, and venture capital funds has helped him raise almost £5 billion. Stewart has been active in venture capital since 2004. As an investor and entrepreneur, he helps entrepreneurs turn their unique ideas into successful businesses. With his years of experience, he offers invaluable advice for budding entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between their goals and their reality.

Investment firm founder fined record £75m by FCA after Keydata collapse

Investors lost hundreds of millions of pounds after a financier's business collapsed and he was fined £75m.Ford's fine is nearly twenty times the previous highest fine levied by the financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, against an individual. A fine of £4m was imposed on the firm's sales director and a further £200,000 fine was imposed on the compliance officer.

The former Edinburgh print worker is appealing the FCA's fine and countersuing PwC and the FCA for £700m. Ford created a £2.8bn financial empire through Keydata selling so-called death bonds.

Keydata founder Stewart Ford to sue City regulator for £370m

Ford is threatening to sue the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for £371 million after Keydata Investment Services collapsed in 2009 due to insolvency and tax violations.

After Keydata closed last week, Ford notified the FCA he planned to take legal action. Ford's employment in financial services is currently under consideration by the FCA. It offered structured products as a specialist investment firm. It was discovered that £100m of the firm's assets had been "misappropriated" by the Financial Services Authority.

The FCA's disciplinary proceedings against Ford continue, so commenting on Ford's letter would be inappropriate under these circumstances.

"Death bonds" fine hits Keydata founder

Ford has filed a £700m High Court claim against the FCA and accountants PwC in retaliation for his record-breaking £75m fine against Keydata's founder Stewart Ford.

Keydata's former boss is facing a legal battle to recover £75m in fees and commissions from the over £475m invested in so-called "death bonds" that he made. Peter Johnson, Keydata's former compliance officer, was fined £200,000 and Mark Owen, former sales director, was fined £4m.

They will also be barred from any financial services jobs in the future. A week later, Mr Ford said he would sue the FCA and PwC for damages and scrapping the fine, seeking £650m.

Keydata was deliberately destroyed by the FSA without any reason, Mr Ford claimed. PwC was hired to report that Keydata was insolvent without speaking to Keydata's management - and that finding was completely inaccurate.

Become part of the spectacle of Keydata and its dodgy accountants being exposed at the High Court, I invite all former Keydata investors and their financial advisers." Ford's suit, according to PwC, was without merit.

City watchdog imposed the largest fine on an individual ever. A number of times in relation to the performance of the investment products, Mr Ford, Mr Owen and Mr Johnson misled the Financial Services Authority, according to the regulator. SLS and Lifemark, two Luxembourg companies, offered death bonds at the center of the issue. Second-hand life insurance policies purchased from Americans with short lifespans were used.

As many people who were insured lived longer than expected, the bonds had their own problems, forcing investors to pay more premiums.

Stewart Ford's first responses

Having been closed down by the UK authorities last year, Stewart Ford, the owner of Keydata, has kept a low profile in Geneva. Almost 30,000 of his customers invested £450m with him, but he argues that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) is investigating what happened to that money.

Thousands of UK customers bought policies from SLS, a Luxembourg company, but £103m disappeared in fraud. His policies were also sold to another 23,000 clients at Lifemark, which is still in limbo about £350m.

Jack Irvine, his spokesman, has answered some questions put by the BBC despite being reluctant to speak directly.

Timeline

2018

Judge Berner found for the respondent (the FCA) and increased the fine to £76 million in the Upper Tribunal decision on 6 November 2018.

2015

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined Ford a record £75 million on 26 May 2015. In connection with the FCA fine, purchasers were wrongly encouraged to believe they were entitled to tax-free ISAs by mis-selling "death bonds". Defendant Ford is suing the FCA for £370 million, claiming Keydata was closed for political reasons, was a "highly successful" company with nearly £3 billion in assets, and his reputation was damaged "grievously and irreparably".

Ford is challenging the FCA's decision to fine him £75 million at a one-day Upper Tribunal hearing scheduled for 23 September.

2010

He was estimated to be worth £160 million in 2010, before Keydata collapsed. More than 40,000 people lost savings when Keydata collapsed in 2010, according to Richard Dyson.

1964

Ford founded Keydata, which failed, and was chief executive (CEO) of the company. In January 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority fined him a record £76 million.

Born in 1964, Stewart Owen Ford. The young man lived in an orphanage in Edinburgh for seven years under the care of his alcoholic mother when he was 10; he was 17 when he left.

Conclusion

It is a story of remarkable success followed by remarkable failure in Stewart Ford's life. Over 35 years of experience in business and philanthropy, particularly in fintech and renewable energy. A collapse of Keydata Investment Services tainted his legacy in 2009.

A record-breaking fine of £75 million by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) illustrates Ford's challenges. Ford's complex legal wrangles after the financial crisis are shed light by PwC and FCA countersuits. He appeals and threatens to sue the FCA, intensifying the legal drama.

While navigating the courtroom, Ford shares contrasting perspectives. Nevertheless, the FCA maintains its position that "death bonds" were mis-sold. A September 2018 Upper Tribunal hearing further complicates Ford's legal entanglements.

Stewart Ford's story demonstrates how success can quickly turn into adversity. Keydata's collapse continues to have long-term repercussions for industry players and entrepreneurs alike.

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