Adviser seeks to appeal against pounds 15,000 Imro fine

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The Independent Online
CITY watchdog Imro will learn this week whether it faces a potentially embarrassing appeal after it fined A&R Equity, an investment advisory firm, pounds 15,000.

Imro, the regulator for fund managers, has already been threatened with a related legal action after it in effect blackballed a former A&R employee, Simon Thurlow, from membership of the the brokers' regulatory association Fimbra, as reported in last week's Independent on Sunday. The Fimbra case for excluding Mr Thurlow, based on evidence passed to it by Imro, as regulator of the firm he previously worked for, was thrown out at a Fimbra appeal tribunal.

Now A&R Equity, the firm Mr Thurlow previously worked for, is also appealing against the Imro charges that were at the root of Mr Thurlow's difficulties with Fimbra.

On Thursday, A&R will seek leave from the Imro appeal tribunal president, Sir Roger Parker, to appeal, despite being outside the 10-day time limit, against the Imro disciplinary action. The action centred on allegedly unsuitable investment recommendations, inadequate compliance systems and failure to co-operate. One charge, involving unreasonable charges and a compensation payment of pounds 15,000, has already been dropped.

In 1993, Imro carried out a series of investigations at A&R Equity, later bought by a part of the merchant bank Arbuthnot Latham. In 1994, A&R Equity admitted the charges and paid a pounds 15,000 fine rather than face further investigations and a formal tribunal.

But during Mr Thurlow's hearing earlier this year it emerged that Imro's chief executive Phillip Thorpe had admitted in a letter that the necessary "high standards of professionalism [had not been] consistently achieved" by Imro in its handling of the Imro/A&R relationship. While defending aspects of the investigation, Mr Thorpe apologised for "a history of failed communication ... impatience and mistrust".

Despite Imro's statutory protection against claims for negligence, Mr Thurlow believes he has a strong case against Imro for a six-figure sum in damages because he claims he lost his job, earning prospects and health as a result of Imro's actions.