The FCA is taking action to protect consumers following the identification of serious regulatory and operational issues at WealthTek Limited Liability Partnership (WealthTek).
The FCA is conducting a regulatory and criminal investigation into both WealthTek and its principal partner, John Dance, which includes potential regulatory breaches relating to client money and custody assets, and criminal offences of fraud and money laundering.
WealthTek is an FCA authorised and regulated wealth management firm which provided discretionary, advisory and execution only services to their retail clients and intermediaries. However, as was reflected on the FCA Register, it did not have permission to hold client money or custody assets.
The FCA required the firm to cease operations on 4 April while it examined suspected regulatory breaches concerning client money and custody assets.
The FCA sought to protect customer assets in WealthTek by instigating an insolvency procedure and securing High Court approval on 6 April 2023 to put the firm in special administration.
The High Court appointed Shane Crooks, Mark Shaw and Emma Sayers of BDO LLP as Joint Special Administrators of WealthTek. WealthTek also has the trading names Vertem Asset Management and Malloch Melville.
Alongside this, the FCA obtained a worldwide order to freeze assets belonging to Mr Dance up to the value of £40m. The aim of this action is to preserve assets which may potentially be available for distribution or confiscation upon the conclusion of any civil or criminal proceedings brought by the FCA.
The FCA considers it important to note that whilst this order restrains and prevents Mr Dance from dissipating any of his identified assets, it does not preclude him from claiming reasonable living expenses or from continuing to operate his horse business or any other existing business unrelated to the matters featured in the proceedings brought by the FCA to date.
- Northumbria Police, working in partnership with the FCA, arrested Mr Dance on 4 April in connection with the FCA’s investigation and the FCA later interviewed Mr Dance under caution.
- The FCA is working closely with the Joint Special Administrators and is aware of the potential shortfall of £81.4 million in Client Assets and Money associated with WealthTek as at 6 April 2023. As BDO have explained to WealthTek’s customers, further investigations are needed to establish the full picture and we will work closely with them to do all we can to reduce the harm to consumers.
We recognise this will be concerning for customers of Wealthtek. Customers with any questions should contact the Joint Special Administrators via [email protected], 0113 521 4470 or 0151 351 4700.
Individuals who believe that they may hold information relevant to the FCA’s investigation can contact the investigation team on [email protected]