Estate Agent in Sex Pest Row Accused of Flouting Rules on Lending; BOSS OF YOUR MOVE FACES CLAIM THAT BROKERS SOLD MORTGAGES TO HELP WIN LUCRATIVE SURVEYING CONTRACTS

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), November 26, 2006 | Go to article overview

Estate Agent in Sex Pest Row Accused of Flouting Rules on Lending; BOSS OF YOUR MOVE FACES CLAIM THAT BROKERS SOLD MORTGAGES TO HELP WIN LUCRATIVE SURVEYING CONTRACTS


Byline: RICHARD DYSON

There is no dispute about his ability to make money. He became almost [pounds sterling]20 million richer last week after floating Your Move, Britain's third-biggest estate agency chain, for [pounds sterling]211 million.

But Simon Embley has a rather more unwelcome habit of attracting enemies and hostile headlines.

In the past, publicity has centred on his wealth and his questionable behaviour towards younger, female employees. But the latest chapter in Embley's career has introduced a new twist - allegations of financial malpractice.

Shares in Your Move's parent company LSL Properties, where Embley is chief executive, changed hands for the first time last Tuesday following the company's flotation.

Embley owns 7.6 million shares worth [pounds sterling]16 million. Other beneficiaries were fellow executives Paul Latham, with 6.8 million shares, and finance director Dean Fielding, who collected six million.

Embley, who only two years ago denied lurid allegations about his conduct towards women colleagues, swiftly brushed aside comments and questions about his new-found wealth.

But while his riches were much in the public glare, allegations have emerged about another altogether more private transaction.

Last Wednesday, his boardroom colleague Fielding is understood to have met a former employee, who claimed to have proof that Your Move had flouted financial regulations.

The company denies the allegations made by John Main, who until early this year was Your Move's head of compliance. He left in February, feeling that he was being asked to conceal elements of the way the company did business from the Financial Services Authority.

Earlier this year, Main, 56, contacted the paper as his relationship soured with Embley and other Your Move bosses. He claimed Your Move was until very recently guilty of a malpractice once known to be widespread in the estate agency industry, where salesmen give biased advice to customers to win lucrative business from big banks.

Main claimed that Your Move's mortgage brokers were under pressure to sell home loans from particular lenders, notably Royal Bank of Scotland. Your Move's sister company, e.surv, stood to win juicy contracts from these firms, he alleged.

Main told Financial Mail that his difficulties within Your Move's senior management began last January when he claims he came under pressure to 'rehearse' responses to questions put to Your Move during a visit from the FSA.

He left shortly after and has since sought a payoff, claiming unfair dismissal.

Your Move managing director David Newnes, who reports to Embley, has insisted all along that the company's mortgage brokers have always offered fair and compliant advice.

Last week, he said again that he was 'absolutely satisfied that all advice given was fair'. He said the FSA's visit had not produced any evidence of compliance failings. …

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