Simon English: Why did the company's bosses know nothing?
Tuesday 20 March 2012
A statement from Conor Foley, chief executive of WorldSpreads until very recently: he "wishes to make it clear that the first he learnt of these issues was on Friday morning last, at the same time as the rest of the board of WorldSpreads".
His chairman, Lindsay McNeile, says the same. Assuming they are telling the absolute truth, and there is no reason to think otherwise, this question is begged: what on earth were they doing when they were supposed to be in charge of the business?
Rumours that WorldSpreads was in very serious trouble first reached this office even before Mr Foley stepped down. While the exact nature of the difficulty was hazy, plenty of people in the City knew something was up.
Mr McNeile denied all this with joie de vivre – he's an extremely charming fellow.
The inevitable investigation into this mess by the Financial Services Authority is bound to ask these two what they knew. If the answer really is "nothing", that doesn't seem to do them much credit.
About the last thing the spread-betting industry needed was a scandal involving a mix-up between client and company funds.
Rivals may be glad to see a competitor disappear, but annoyed at the confidence-sapping way it has done so.
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