No use having teeth if you don’t bite: FSA shows it has grit.

Below is a press release from the Financial Services Authority in the UK. This is how they deal with executives who cross the line, while we can praise reform in Ireland it is clear to see that we do not come anywhere near the standards set in the UK when it comes to discipline in the market, while over 90% of complaints are against banks, they have the fewest sanctions and yet this is the same banking system which nearly pushed the nation over the edge. The people in charge now are the same people that lead us here and it is shocking that we laud ‘new regulation’ when in fact we are still behind the times.

It is becoming evident that our own banks may have not been totally forthcoming in how they presented their own statements of affairs in the past, will similar sanctions therefore follow?

SA/PN/126/2010

27 July 2010

FSA bans and fines former Northern Rock finance director £320,000 for misreporting mortgage arrears figures

The Financial Services Authority has fined David Jones, former finance director (FD) of Northern Rock PLC (NR) £320,000 and prohibited him from performing any function in relation to any regulated activity [emphasis mine].

Jones’s misconduct started in mid January 2007 when he agreed, along with David Baker (former NR Deputy CEO), to allow false mortgage arrears figures to appear in explanatory text published with the 2006 annual accounts. Reporting correct figures would have either increased arrears by over 50% or possessions figures by approximately 300%.

For nearly a year, Jones was responsible for the continued misreporting of arrears and possessions figures on a monthly basis to NR’s assets & liabilities committee (ALCO) and, on a quarterly basis, to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Margaret Cole, FSA director of enforcement and financial crime, said:

“Even though other senior directors within the firm were involved in the misreporting of arrears and possessions figures, as a senior director himself and as an FSA authorised person, Jones had a duty to reveal the true position to the public and to important internal committees. He had numerous opportunities to put things right, but failed to do so.

“This is a message to all FSA approved persons, that they must take their individual responsibilities seriously at all times, or suffer the consequences.”

Background

From 2005, NR staff were under pressure to report arrears figures at half the CML average. To achieve this, a series of improper actions were taken which were outside NR’s stated policy. For example, cases where a possession order had been made against a property, but where physical possession had not yet been taken (pending possessions cases) were excluded from all arrears and possessions figures. Although Jones was not involved in the actions that gave rise to their existence, by January 2007 1,917 such cases had been omitted.

Jones was FD (designate) between 10 January 2007 and 1 February 2007. During this time, David Baker informed him of the existence of the pending possessions and asked whether they impacted the firm’s stated provisions for bad debts. Jones assured himself that the provisions were correct and agreed not to reveal the pending possession cases.

As FD from 1 February 2007 to 22 February 2008, Jones was responsible for the debt management unit (DMU) and the credit management information unit (CMIU) at NR. Amongst other things, these units were responsible for reporting arrears.

Jones received a 20% discount for settling in Stage 2 of the FSA’s executive settlement procedures. Were it not for this discount, Jones would have been fined £400,000.

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