SFC bans British financial adviser for life

The Hong Kong regulator bans the former managing director of Crown Asset Management, Pauline Ellen Cousins, from re-entering the industry for life after she cheated a university professor.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) stated yesterday that it had banned British financial adviser Pauline Ellen Cousins from re-entering the industry for life.

The former managing director of Crown Asset Management was jailed for 21 months by Hong Kong’s District Court on December 10 last year for cheating City University professor Dr Lindsay James Miller.

The SFC noted that between 2002 and 2006, Cousins had produced four false portfolio valuation summaries, which belonged to other clients, and used them to mislead him into believing he had invested a lump sum of HK$1.75 million in an investment-linked assurance scheme run by Royal Skandia.

But Cousins had, in fact, invested the lump sum without his permission in the shares of another company, British bio-technology firm MicroSulis, which went into liquidation in 2007, rendering Miller’s shares worthless.

Cousins was convicted on four counts of furnishing false information. In sentencing, Judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai described her actions as a serious breach of trust, given that she had used false documents and letters with Miller’s forged signature.

“It was not an isolated incident and the deception involved a degree of planning,” the judge was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post.

In a summary of the case on the Hong Kong government’s judiciary website, the judge noted that Miller’s money was not intended to be taken away permanently. Rather, it was Cousin’s intention to pocket the difference, given her faith in Microsulis’s potential growth.

The defendant was 66 at the time of her conviction. The judge noted that she had worked industriously and was well respected by her peers, friends and some of her clients. 

While rejecting her defence lawyer’s calls for leniency on the grounds of ill-health, the judge did take three months off Cousins’ sentence, originally two years, after she agreed to pay Miller HK$310,000 as restitution, the newspaper reported.

Cousins had been licensed under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO) to carry on type 4 (advising on securities) regulated activity and accredited to Crown Asset Management from 2002 to 2006. Her licence was revoked in February 2006.

Crown Asset Management was licensed under the SFO to carry on type 4 regulated activity from 2002 to 2006. Its licence was revoked in February 2006 and it currently does not hold a licence with the SFC.

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