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Ex-finance watchdog employee fined after disclosing company’s documents

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A FORMER Jersey Financial Services Commission employee who took confidential documents from an application file, and then presented them to his subsequent employer as the ‘gold standard’ for such paperwork, has been spared prison.

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Accountant Timothy Owen Jones, of St Peter, pleaded guilty in the Magistrate’s Court to one count of disclosing information about Belasko Jersey Ltd without that company’s consent.

Police legal adviser Susie Sharp said Jones had worked for three years for the JFSC and had taken the documents towards the end of his time there.

She said the documents – compliance, anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing manuals – had formed part of the company’s licensing through the JFSC.

The court heard that in May 2018 Jones showed them to his new employer, Vistra, saying they were ‘top secret’. Ms Sharp added that the defendant had said they could be used as templates for future applications.

Jones had hard copies of the company’s documents, which were later scanned into his new employer’s system and then shredded.

Ms Sharp said the new managing director of Vistra became concerned when he learned about the documents and reported the matter to the regulator, which began an investigation.

Advocate Ian Jones, defending, said the defendant had never intended to take the documents for any illegal purpose and his was ‘a case of stupidity more than anything else’.

Advocate Jones said his client had taken home the documents over the course of his normal work for the JFSC, but was then dismissed without notice from the financial watchdog in September 2017 through a compromise agreement.

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He added that the defendant was keen to stress ‘there was no plan or intent with regards to the documents when he was compromised out of JFSC’.

He said that when Jones showed the documents to Vistra, he only intended to recommend that they hire the company that had prepared them – Optimus – and that his client did not recall saying they were ‘top secret’.

Offering mitigation, Advocate Jones said the 51-year-old defendant had since lost his job and was unlikely ever to work in financial services again and would probably lose his accountancy qualification as well.

‘This was a significant blow to his family,’ Advocate Jones said, as his client struggled to maintain composure in the dock.

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‘He has already paid a heavy price and will continue to do so.’ Jones could have faced up to two years in prison for the offence under the Financial Services Law. However, the Magistrate, Bridget Shaw, handed down a fine of £5,000, which Jones committed to paying over the next ten weeks.

‘What is the harm in this case?’ she asked. ‘The harm is to do with the confidence in the regulator that the financial service industry should have.’

She said Jones must have known that the documents should not go to a third party without the company’s consent.

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