On Friday 12 July, at Maidstone Crown Court, following criminal action brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Michael Joseph James Lewis was sentenced to two years in prison on two counts of making/supplying documentation for use in fraud and ten counts of carrying on a mortgage advisory business despite being prohibited from doing so.
Lewis had pleaded guilty to these matters on 14 June 2013 at an earlier hearing.
Over the course of more than fourteen months Lewis, a former- mortgage advisor, knowingly falsified employment and income details in respect of mortgage applicants in a dishonest attempt to deceive lenders into advancing mortgages. In doing so, his aim was to trigger the substantial arrangement fees that he had charged his clients. For example, for one client he sought fees of £12,000.
In earlier regulatory proceedings brought by the FCA’s predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, in 2011, Lewis had already been banned from advising on mortgages and fined £106,000 for mortgage fraud.
The FCA decided to take additional criminal action against him when it became clear that Lewis had simply ignored his prohibition notice and was continuing to advise clients. The FCA discovered that Lewis had been unlawfully providing mortgage advice to consumers right up until his arrest on 24 October 2012.
During the sentencing hearing HHJ Byers said: “some of the people [Lewis] advised were vulnerable” and that his actions could potentially have made their lives “a lot worse” due to them obtaining mortgages that they simply would not have the financial means to repay. The Judge stated that: “the public rightly expect people of your status to be of the highest integrity” and that in those circumstances only a prison sentence was appropriate.
Tracey McDermott, FCA director of enforcement and financial crime, said:
“Lewis thought that he could ignore our prohibition order, but Lewis thought wrong. This two year jail sentence should serve as a clear signal to anyone who might be tempted to do the same. Where we take the step of banning someone because of the risk they pose to consumers we expect them to comply with that. Where they do not do so they will face the most serious consequences. This fully deserved two year jail sentence shows just how much his arrogance has cost him.”
Lewis was born on 24 May 1948. He is 65 years old. Prior to his guilty pleas in this matter he had no previous criminal convictions. He was made bankrupt on 20 April 2012. As a result of his bankruptcy none of the fine imposed on him by the FCA in August 2011 has been paid.
Notes to Editors
2. On the 1 April 2013 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
3. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers