FSA rounds up ‘dirty dozen’

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is aiming to round up a ‘dirty dozen’ of insider dealing and market abuse cases, with a view to bringing them to court over the next three months, claimed Sir Howard Davies as he bowed out as chairman of the FSA last week, handing over the watchdog to Callum McCarthy.
“There are quite a lot of cases coming to fruition,” Sir Howard said. “The pipeline is going to disgorge soon and there will be some fun for my successor.” According to the FSA, these cases – dubbed “the dirty dozen” by the former chairman – will mainly involve “people at the margins of the market” and will lead to the FSA’s first criminal prosecution.
The FSA has been criticised for its failure to crack down on such cases and there has recently been a 10 per cent increase in the enforcement budget. “It is staggering that these cases have taken this long to work their way through,” commented Simon Gleeson, a partner at Allen & Overy who was seconded to the FSA to assist in the preparation of the new market abuse regime. However, Gleeson said that there was “a certain amount of inevitability” about the delay.
He continued: “When we first had the Financial Services and Markets Act [which gave the FSA its sweeping new powers] there were a number of obstacles, as I suspect the FSA think of them, or safeguards, as the industry regards them, placed between the FSA and publicly bringing any sort of prosecution or enforcement action. It’s taken until now to fight their way through those procedural safeguards and get these cases into the public eye.”
Gleeson noted that the FSA “couldn’t afford” to lose too many of the forthcoming legal actions. “If they do anything else other than win, the danger is that their exciting and cherished market abuse regime will go the way of the old insider dealing regime,” he added.