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Woodford flags comeback

The UK's financial regulator is warning investors that disgraced fund manager Neil Woodford is launching a new venture, WCM Partners.

The Financial Conduct Authority was forced to act after Woodford announced that his new investment firm is in the works, reportedly operating out of Jersey.

FCA director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward said Woodford has not applied for appropriate permissions to commence regulated activity in the UK.

"In taking any decision on whether to authorise a firm, we consider whether it is ready, willing and organised to comply, on a continuing basis, with our requirements and standards. That includes, for example, the sustainability of the firm's business model and the fitness of its management," he said.

The FCA is working in conjunction with the Jersey Financial Services Commission, sharing information about applications Woodford has made to be able to operate.

The watchdog is still investigating the downfall of the Woodford Equity Income Fund.

"The investigation is being appropriately resourced and is progressing, though there has been some impact on accessing certain documents and witnesses during the pandemic. It is important to note that any comment about the scope of this ongoing investigation is purely speculation; we have not confirmed who or what we are investigating, though it is public knowledge that there were a significant number of entities in the chain of operation of the fund," Steward said.

Woodford launched the fund in May 2014. Five years later, he froze investors' money amid liquidity issues.

Steward recognised how long the FCA's investigation has taken, pointing out that it is "vital we investigate thoroughly and investigations are not limited at their outset".

"Instead, we look at what all the evidence tells us before we make conclusions about what, if any, misconduct has taken place and who is responsible, if it has. It is only then that we can assess what, if any, sanction we should put in place. It is important as the decision-makers on investigations that we do not prejudge their conclusion," he said.

Read more: FCANeil WoodfordWCM PartnersFinancial Conduct AuthorityJersey Financial Services CommissionMark StewardWoodford Equity Income Fund
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