Barings bosses face SFA grilling

JOHN EISENHAMMER

Financial Editor

The Securities and Futures Authority is set to interview former executives of Barings, which could result in some being banned from working in the City.

Regulatory sources said the SFA is determined to come down hard on those executives who failed to exercise their responsibilities in the collapsed merchant bank.

The investigation is believed to cover about 12 former executives from Peter Baring, the ex-chairman, and Andrew Tuckey, the ex-deputy chairman, downwards. But the main focus is on those such as Peter Norris, the former head of the securities side, and Ron Baker, formerly in charge of the derivatives operations, who are believed to have been more directly involved in the running of the business.

The Bank of England report into the collapse of Barings under losses of pounds 860m, put the blame firmly on Nick Leeson's unauthorised derivatives speculation in Singapore as well as the seriously inadequate internal management controls. The SFA's task is now to put the personalities to the management breakdown, detailing precisely who was responsible, or should have been responsible, for specific actions and operations.

The executives had to return to the SFA by Tuesday night, a questionnaire, tailored to each individual, which sought to establish precisely what the lines of responsibility and reporting were, or were meant to be, at the old Barings.

The Bank of England report painted a picture of great confusion, with several senior executives claiming they thought each other was looking after particular areas of trading and control. On the basis of the structures revealed in the replies, the SFA is soon to begin talking to the former executives. Of all of them, only Andrew Tuckey is believed still to be working, under some informal arrangement with Barings' corporate finance. All had their registration with the SFA, essential for working in the securities industry in the City, taken away when they were dismissed by ING, the new Dutch owner of Barings. If they re-apply for registration, the SFA has to be convinced they are fit and proper people to work in the securities business.

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