Letter: FSA too powerful

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Sir: Your comment on the Financial Services Authority (Outlook, 18 November) makes a fundamental error in summarising the objections to the authority's proposed powers.

These are considerable greater than the powers of existing regulators. Indeed, the draft Financial Services and Markets Bill gives the authority the ability to impose unlimited fines on any person, not just those who are regulated by the authority.

The fines will be for contravening the rules that the authority has drawn up. The authority will then keep the fines for its own purposes, including, one presumes, paying salaries to staff. Finally, the Government wants the "civil standard" of proof to determine whether someone has broken the rules, with the primary aim of making it easier to levy the fines.

The rules are, quite simply, unacceptable in any society which seeks to protect the rights of the individual. It is not adequate to say that no one need worry because the current board and executive of the authority are honourable people who would never use the power unduly.


London NW3