Embattled financial adviser Collingwood Investment has been reprimanded by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) for wide-spread mis-selling of investment products. Its former manager director, Grant Wettle, also has been severely criticised for failing to enforce safeguards alerting investors to the risks of early encashment of the policies or control the issue of unauthorised material. The reprimand follows a 10-month investigation into the company which involved the review of hundreds of client files and the cross-examination of past and present staff. A spokesman for the SFC said the probe covered investment advice offered from October 1990 to April 1995 and was prompted by complaints from angry investors. The scope of the mis-selling uncovered by the investigation is believed to have led to regulators lobbying the Life Insurance Council to strengthen consumer protection. It also is linked to the life insurance industry's decision to introduce cooling-off notices for investors on long-term policies and the proposed review of investment illustrations. An SFC spokesman said: 'Collingwood failed, in some instances, to enforce procedures designed to ensure that, prior to selling an investment linked insurance policy to a client, its consultants clearly explained all the terms and conditions of the policy, including the costs associated with the investment, and penalties for encashing a policy prior to the originally agreed maturity date.' He added that it also had failed to properly control the issue of unauthorised materials which could have led to infringements of the Protection of Investors Ordinance. It is believed the company's preparedness to review client files and the advice offered saved it from harsher punishment. The reprimand follows one of the regulators most extensive investigations into an independent adviser. Past and current staff members were called into the SFC's Edinburgh Tower offices in Central to be question under oath about the group's sales of investment-linked insurance. The policies can offer competitive returns if held for the full term, which can range from 10 to 25 years. But high up-front costs, including the adviser's commission, mean that early surrender penalties can be harsh. The company, which is 99 per cent owned by Old Mutual International - South Africa's biggest life insurance group with about US$35 billion under management - was not available for comment. Former managing director, Grant Wettle, resigned last November and other directors were replaced late last year from the firm, which was one of Hong Kong's best-known financial advisers, but has been hit by high staff turnover since the investigation began. At least three former consultants, who were recruited from Britain, have sought legal advice and claim they are planning to sue the firm for breach of contract.