The Financial Services Authority (FSA) – the UK regulator – yesterday fined French insurer Axa £500,000 for misleading advertisements. The penalty imposed on Axa Sun Life is the biggest the FSA has ever imposed for inaccurate advertising.
The FSA decided Axa Sun Life had misled customers for two years up to January 2004 in television, newspaper and direct promotional advertising by failing to give enough information about how the products worked or the risks involved, and over- emphasizing free promotional gifts. From January 2002 to April 2003 advertisements for one product used inaccurate data. Axa Sun Life withdrew both products in January.
“The FSA takes the issue of misleading financial promotions very seriously,” said FSA director of enforcement, Andrew Procter, in a statement. “We expect firms to comply with the spirit, not just the letter, of the rules, so that consumers gain a clear and fair understanding through the promotion.” Last year, the FSA fined Bank of Ireland’s Chase de Vere unit £165,000 over a misleading promotion for investment products.