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April 19, 2011 12:00 PM

U.K.'s FSA Issues Warning About Cromwell & Goodwin

Posted by Brian Baxter

The Financial Services Authority, Britain's leading financial regulator, has issued an alert about Cromwell & Goodwin, which describes itself as a New York-based law firm.

The Am Law Daily reported earlier this month on the alleged firm's mysterious origins. Cromwell & Goodwin's Web site, which was created on March 19, boasted about the firm's three decades of experience serving clients.

But no one we spoke with had ever heard of the firm, its Web page had several inaccuracies, and Cromwell & Goodwin's New York address didn't exist. Now the FSA has issued a warning to investors that the firm is "NOT authorised under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 ("FSMA") to carry on a regulated activity in the United Kingdom."

The FSA's warning states that regulated activities include advising on investments and "dealing and arranging deals," such as stocks and shares. Several readers who posted comments on our first story from two weeks ago stated that Cromwell & Goodwin had approached them about purchasing shares at discounted prices.

Cromwell & Goodwin has been added to an FSA list of "unauthorised overseas firms operating in the U.K." The FSA states that such firms are "often involved in 'boiler room' activities and pose a high degree of risk to consumers."

The FSA added Cromwell & Goodwin to its warning list on April 13. The regulator states that "the most effective protection against such unauthorised firms is to have nothing to do with them."

All of The Am Law Daily's initial calls to the New York number listed on Cromwell & Goodwin's Web went straight to voicemail. Subsequent calls placed to the firm last week and Monday were answered by a woman who identified herself as "Sonya."

We asked Sonya, who spoke in heavily accented English, whether we could speak with so-called name partners Edward Cromwell and Liberty Goodwin. She told us on both occasions that the two "lawyers" were in meetings but would get back to us. We have yet to hear back.

Sonya also had difficulty remembering the names and gender of both Cromwell & Goodwin name partners. She called Edward Cromwell "Edwin" and referred to Liberty Goodwin as a man, despite the fact that the firm's Web site identifies Goodwin as a woman.

We'll keep you apprised of any new developments--or if we hear back from Edward Cromwell or Liberty Goodwin.

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It looks as though the content is taken from Patton Boggs - particularly the IP page

and other websites, including Drinker Biddle. Not sure they will be too happy about that...

If you look at the "Our People" page it gets worse. None of the partners actually possesses a law degree that is possible to obtain from the law school they attended.

Oxford not Cambridge awards a BCL. Nor do NYU and the University of Geneva offer the BCL. Finally, Hong Kong University law faculty doesn't award a "B.Corp Law". (Never heard of this one.)

If that doesn't give it a hefty fish-sized odour, I don't what will.

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