Column Eight: ASA gives out sound advice

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The Independent Online
Anyone who receives junk mail will be used to the exclamatory blurb beloved of the Innovations Report - 'Walk on water] You'll never have experienced anything like these water-filled insoles' - but things may not be quite as they seem.

One of two product descriptions under fire from the Advertising Standards Authority this month is that for the Lasaway CD pen, pounds 9.95, which, when used to coat the inner and outer edges of the CD, instantly gives 'audibly cleaner, clearer sound quality] Yes we know it sounds incredible, but this Japanese breakthrough really does work]'

The ASA, less credulous, said claims of improved sound quality had not been substantiated. It is becoming used to dealing with Innovations. Nine previous complaints have been upheld in the past year.

Buyout mania extends even to the corporate gumshoe industry. Kroll Associates, the private investigators who have played a role in dozens of major takeover battles (including Iraq's 1990 'merger' with Kuwait), have announced the acquisition of Palumbo Partners, a Miami-based 'security and counter-terrorism service' which specialises in corporate snooping in Latin America.

Terms, needless to say, were not disclosed.

Elizabeth Nelson brings you a new reason for resignation. No longer chairman of Taylor Nelson, she wants to 'pursue more freely' her role as chairman-designate of the UK eco-labelling board.

Well, it makes a change from spending more time with the family.

Iosco, the gentlemen's club of securities regulators, has turned down a membership application from Yugoslavia's version of the Securities and Investments Board. The decision has nothing to do with the alleged murder of Bosnians by Serbs, or mortar-bombing of Sarajevo.

No, the application was shelved because Iosco realised, not before time, that it could not determine how much of Yugoslavia would even be left for a regulator.

And Iosco's seventeenth annual conference, to be held in London in October, will include the motion that 'the role of lawyers in investment business regulation has increased, is increasing and should be diminished.'

Cynics say it is foolish to schedule an hour and a half for a debate which will only last one second before a 'yes' vote is recorded and everyone thunders off for an early lunch.