Financial Regulatory Forum

The Einhorn effect? How the FSA’s authority might be undermined by vocal unrepentant sinners

By Peter Elstob

LONDON/NEW YORK, Feb. 23 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) could see its credibility undermined as individuals with deep pockets choose not to challenge fines, instead paying up but then publicly criticising the regulator, a leading regulatory lawyer has warned. “I think it will be interesting to see whether … individuals and firms decide, for good commercial reasons, not to challenge cases, but to either settle them or to leave them uncontested, but then to comment rather adversely on the FSA’s process and finding,” said Helen Marshall, a former senior FSA enforcement official and now a partner at Bingham McCutchen LLP.  (more…)

Einhorn/Greenlight Capital fine highlights duty for investors to seek absolute clarity over inside information

By Martin Coyle and Alex Robson

LONDON/NEW YORK, (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – A decision by the UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) to fine hedge fund manager David Einhorn and his Greenlight Capital fund 7.3 million pounds ($11.5 million) has highlighted the need for professional investors to ascertain clearly what constitutes inside information, securities lawyers said. The FSA said that it fined Einhorn 3.64 million pounds and Greenlight Capital 3.65 million pounds for using inside information that he obtained from a broker before selling shares in a UK public company in 2009. Einhorn’s is the biggest scalp by far of the FSA’s renewed determination to punish market manipulation as part of its “credible deterrence” policy.

The regulator said that Einhorn learned from a telephone conversation with the broker that British pub company Punch Taverns was on the verge of a significant equity fundraising, prompting the New York-based financier to sell down his holdings before an anticipated fall in the shares. (more…)

Rogue traders will always pose risk to compliance controls, says industry

Traders work at their desks in front of the DAX indexBy Martin Coyle and Alex Robson

LONDON/NEW YORK, Sept. 16 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The $2 billion rogue trading incident at UBS demonstrates that determined individuals will always be able to circumvent internal systems and controls despite the recent regulatory scrutiny on this area, industry officials said. The case also highlighted the need for banks to think about their reward structures, they added.

UBS yesterday confirmed that 31-year-old London-based trader Kweku Adoboli had lost the bank around $2 billion in unauthorised deals. The director of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and “Delta 1″ was arrested on suspicion of fraud at his desk by City of London Police at 3:30am. (more…)

PERSONAL VIEW: Reflections on the successful prosecution of Tom Wilmot, UK boiler room king

By Alex Davidson – the views expressed are his own.

LONDON, Aug. 26 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Earlier this week Tomas Wilmot was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court to nine years in jail for conspiracy to defraud investors out of 27.5 million pounds through boiler rooms. I took a particular interest in the case because I had once worked for a short period as a dealer at Harvard Securities, a licensed dealer in securities run by Wilmot in London in the late 1980s.  One of the most powerful bosses of speculative share dealing operations over some 25 years had finally been caught.

(more…)

Firms must prepare for UK approved persons grilling

Joanne Wallen

LONDON, May 31 (ThomsonReuters Accelus)

Corporate executives and directors in Britain must be prepared for increasingly rigorous interviews by the Financial Services Authority to be accepted as “approved persons” eligible to hold positions of significant responsibility in their firms.

Nadia Swann, a partner in Linklaters’ financial regulation group, told a briefing that the Financial Services Authority’s interview process had become more formal after the government-commissionerd Walker Review on Corporate Governance in late 2009 recommended an overhaul of the FSA’s approved persons oversight. Now there is an increased focus on the competence of approved persons and those in significant influence functions.

The first to be called to the FSA panel for interviews hadn’t expected the grilling, Swann said. Interviewees now face detailed practical questions to assess their competence. Questions included: “What have you failed to achieve for this company?” or “What are your greatest weaknesses?” and even “What are you personal development plans?”

COLUMN: British bankers give up payment-protection appeal – the implications

By Adam Samuel, Thomson Reuters Accelus contributor. The opinions expressed are his own.

LONDON, May 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – The British Bankers’ Association left it until the day before the last available one to appeal against its defeat in the Administrative Court, to throw in the towel in its payment protection insurance judicial review application.

Having lost on every point in front of Mr Justice Ouseley, the BBA’s undignified judicial review challenge to both the Financial Services Authority and the Financial Ombudsman Service’s material on PPI complaint handling is over.

UK financial regulatory changes sharpen accountability of senior managers

By Susannah Hammond

LONDON, March 18 (Complinet) The new UK financial regulatory architecture is taking shape. The new bodies, their responsibilities and reporting lines are currently being consulted on and seem likely to be fairly close to the structures which will be in place by the end of 2012.

The regulatory philosophy which will underpin the new architecture has already been trailed as being more of the same intrusive and intensive approach to supervision. But it is also clear that senior managers of regulated firms will faced increased scrutiny as the regulators focus on individual accountability.

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UK plan for early notice of insider-trading probes draws criticism

By Peter Elstob

LONDON, Feb. 18 (Complinet) – UK regulatory lawyers have united in their concerns about giving the new Financial Conduct Authority the power to make insider dealing and other investigations public at their initial stage.

The government proposed giving the controversial “early publicity” power to the FCA — the successor body to the Financial Services Authority that will regulate retail, wholesale, and markets conduct of business — in a consultation document that it published on Thursday. (more…)

Reputation risk may outweigh fines in UK financial regulator enforcements (Complinet)

A man is seen behind the entrance door of the offices of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in Canary Wharf, London, November 19, 2010By Joanne Wallen (Complinet)

Jan. 25 – British firms continue to be referred to enforcement despite the best intentions of the Financial Services Authority’s thematic reviews and credible deterrence strategies. On the one hand it looks as though the risks are considered to be worth taking. On the other, reputational damage and loss of trust for the whole industry are at stake.

Last week was overshadowed by the large fine that Barclays received for giving unsuitable investment advice to retail clients about two funds in particular. The fine was 7 million pounds, and the firm is also likely to have to pay up to 60 million pounds in redress, as well as carrying out a past business review and employing a firm of accountants to review customer files. The total cost of the enforcement action will, therefore, be significant.

Compared with the amount of investment a large firm would have to make to consolidate all its legacy systems into one, to revamp all its systems and controls throughout the entire group, to beef up its compliance team and to ensure that every member of staff was properly trained, the costs may not be so high after all.

Get Shorty: Europe’s Crackdown on Short Selling (Westlaw Business)

People walk in front of a shop of French luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton decorated for the Christmas holiday season in Bordeaux, south-western France, December 23, 2009. REUTERS/Regis DuvignauBy Christopher Elias,  (Westlaw Business)

Radical changes to Europe’s system of financial regulation are under way and with them a harmonisation of securities rules as Europe turns a corner on the drive to create a single European Securities and Markets Authority with more stringent disclosure requirements. But with not all European regulators striking the same note, the move for greater scrutiny and heightened disclosure expectations over short selling and shareholdings is making sluggish progress forward. (more…)

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