Britain's regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said yesterday it has begun High Court proceedings against former advisers Paul Steel and Jacqueline Foster.

Both Steel and Foster were directors of failed advice firm Estate Matters Financial (EMF) over alleged unsuitable defined benefit (DB) transfers.

EMF is now in liquidation. The FCA said yesterday that, as part of the proceedings, an interim injunction has been secured which freezes the assets of Steel and Foster, up to £7m.

The FCA alleges that EMF has contravened various requirements under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 by providing "unsuitable" DB pension transfer advice. The regulator said the company had lead clients to exit final salary pension schemes "when it was not in their best interests to do so."

FCA said Steel was "knowingly concerned" in those contraventions. 

It will also be alleged that Steel breached FCA requirements by undertaking a course of conduct which resulted in the removal of EMF's assets, leaving it unable to meet potential liabilities for unsuitable advice, while enabling Steel to retain the significant profits that accrued from the provision of that advice, and from ongoing fees.

An injunction was obtained against Ms Foster on the basis that she may be holding or controlling assets owned by Steel.

The FCA is asking the Court to make a restitution order requiring Steel to compensate consumers who have suffered losses as a result of receiving unsuitable pension transfer advice. No trial date has been set.

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