SRA hits back at ‘incompetence’ claims

The SRA has sought to defend claims it is failing to move quickly enough to regulate alternative business structures (ABS), stating it will not compromise a duty of care to rush through applications.

It comes as the legal watchdog confirmed it was on the verge of approving six applicant ABS’ – the only firms it says that have provided it with “complete and sufficiently detailed forms” to warrant approval.

The legal watchdog has come under fire for a perceived failure to deal with the high volume of applications. It is understood that insurance firm Parabis has delayed its deal with private equity house Duke Street because of the regulatory delays (19 March 2012).

One source said: “There’s widespread dismay at the SRA’s incompetence. The timetable has slipped again and again.”

The SRA, however, has hit back, stating that many applicants had failed to hand over the relevant information needed for approval.

It said: “Applications that involve multi-tiered and complex structures will inevitably take time to approve. The authorisation process involves substantial checks and investigations as our priority must be to ensure that licensing decisions are made in the public interest. We will not compromise this duty by cutting corners.

“Many of the applications we’ve received did not reveal the full extent of that entity’s structure or provide key information to allow us to determine who needs to be individually authorised. That meant we needed to ask for additional details.”

It denied claims that it has been unable to cope with the high number of applicants. The SRA is understood to have received in more than 120 ABS applications.

However, it stated that 39 applicants had completed the second stage of the process.