By Tom Winnifrith | Wednesday 8 March 2017
A busted clock and all that, Roger "Ramper" Lawson has posted something on the ShareSoc blog for his three readers which is actually bang on the money. Although it is written in his normal pompous and tedious style for once the sad old bastard is bang on the money. His comments refer to secret cautions by the FCA - a system which just does not work.
I know that from my 2005 battle with 3DM - which became Environmental Recycling Technologies (ENRT) and finally went bust last year. Evil, myself, Monisha Varadan and Lucian Miers exposed this company as a total fraud. It fought back by getting disgraced tipster Michael Walters to smear us and with numerous fascist lawyers letters. In the end the FSA ( the FCA as was) intervened and forced a truce.
We stopped writing at the behest of the FSA and 3DM dropped its legal claims. Natch our silence allowed Walters to claim - falsely - that the FSA had shut us down as we were telling porkies. The truth was that the FSA had given 3DM a private censure for lying to investors. Three years later after many more lies it served up a public censure and revealed the 2006 private censure. But that was three years too late for all the folks who has averaged down time and time again at the urging of Walters and others such as John Finn.
3DM shows why private censures do not work. They do not protect investors and are no deterrent to a hardened criminal/shameless promoter. So I have long called for the FCA to simply issue public censures. And Ramper agrees. He writes:
The Financial Times reported this morning that it had obtained information from the FCA on the number of private warnings it had issued over the last 5 years using a Freedom of Information Act request. The answer given was that there had been 39 of them.
ShareSoc has complained about this practice in the past, particularly with regards to AIM companies where the LSE has a similar approach. Indeed we complained about the use of private warnings in our submission to the FCA's consultation on its "mission" only in January.
John Mann, M.P., who sits on the Treasury Select Committee was quoted in the FT article as saying: "Transparency is absolutely key. Anything that allows things to be dealt with in secret is damaging to the whole culture of financial services, and opens the regulator up to challenge". One surely cannot but agree with that. Justice must be seen to be done as the well known aphorism goes.
Shareholders in companies do need to know if the FCA has criticised directors in the past, and the details of any such complaint. It also apparently causes problems for those handled in this way because they do have to disclose private warnings to new employers and can only appeal them if challenged with a judicial review (an extremely expensive process).
It's that old "city club" mentality again. "We'll just have a quiet word with the chap" rather than disclose it in public and damage his/her reputation seems to be the attitude. It's surely time such practices were dropped. If it's serious enough that the FCA formally investigates the matter, then any conclusion should be made public and the people involved named.
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