CSA Partners: Compliance Blog

Square Mile rocked by “insider” swoops and arrests / Martin

30/03/2010. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Times Online writes that The Serious Organised Crime Agency raids on some of banking’s big names have sent shock waves through the City of London.

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The men are suspected of being part of what the watchdog has described as a “sophisticated and long-running insider dealing ring”. The FSA believes the ring made “significant profits” by trading on secret information.

This was the fifth set of arrests since it launched a crackdown two years ago, though this is markedly different from the others. Previous efforts have homed in on fringe players — interns at investment banks, retired stockbrokers, silver surfers with online trading accounts, and occasional rogues at second-tier firms.

Last week’s arrests struck at the heart of the City. Dodgson, 38, is known by the bosses of almost all Britain’s big banks and insurers. He has been a trusted adviser on deals for the likes of HBOS and Legal & General. He even played a bit-part in advising the Treasury on the banking bailout. His CV reads like a roll-call of the City’s biggest investment banks: Cazenove, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and Deutsche.

The same is true of the other suspects. Clive Roberts, who was also questioned on Tuesday morning, is head of equities at Exane BNP Paribas. His clients include some of London’s biggest traders, such as Roger Guy, star fund manager at Gartmore.

Julian Rifat, 41, whose Oxfordshire home was raided at 4.45am on Tuesday, is a trader with Moore Capital. Every device in his home that could store information was removed by investigators — including his children’s iPods.

Other suspects include well-known brokers and traders in the AIM market, regularly spotted out and about in City wine bars.

If the FSA can prove its case, it will shake the City to its core.

“I’m absolutely disgusted,” said one senior City banker. “The idea that someone in our line of work could do anything with inside information appals me. We get inside information all the time — it’s part of the job. You assume that everyone respects that. It’s what we do. You simply could not function if you were to spend all your time thinking that members of your team may be trading on that information.”

In the City’s biggest banks, it is assumed that insider dealing is something that happens somewhere else. There are armies of compliance staff monitoring every trade.

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