The FSA: Vying To Be Viewed as an Aggressive Regulator

The FSA: Vying To Be Viewed as an Aggressive Regulator

The Financial Services Authority in the U.K. has been aggressively prosecuting insider trading cases as part of its efforts to shed its lackluster image. Until last week, the regulator had prevailed in four successive insider trading trials.

Last week, the FSA's program was dealt a setback when it lost one of its highest profile insider dealing cases, FSA v. Andrew King and Michael McFall. Mr. McFall was a partner at McDermott Will & Emory. Mr. King was the finance director at Neutec Pharma PLC. Andrew Rimmington, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney was also charged.

According to the FSA, Mr. King furnished inside information about the pending acquisition of his company to Mr. McFall. Midway through the trial, the case was discharged as to Mr. Rimmington for personal reasons. At the conclusion of the trial, a jury acquitted Messrs. King and McFall.

Following the verdict, the FSA announced it would not prosecute Mr. Rimmington. The FSA does have eleven other insider dealing cases pending and has vowed to continue its aggressive posture. Proof of that fact came the same days as the verdict in the King and McFall case. The FSA levied its largest fine ever against J.P.Morgan Chase & Co. for failing to separate client money from that of the firm. According to the regulator, the company committed a serious breach of client money rules by failing for nearly seven years to properly segregate bank and client funds. At the same time, the FSA noted that the error was not intentional and arose during the merger of J.P. Morgan and Chase. The fine was $48.8 million for what many view as an administrative error.

For more cutting edge commentary on developing securities issues, visit SEC Actions, a blog by Thomas Gorman.