Duo expelled for insider trading

THE FINANCIAL Services Authority, the City watchdog, yesterday expelled Bill Dootson and Paul Sharples, two former stockbrokers with the Manchester firm of Henry Cooke Lumsden, from the securities industry, for profiting from insider dealing.

The disciplinary action came after an investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry into share price dealings ahead of the 1995 takeover of Fine Decor failed to find sufficient evidence to justify criminal prosecution.

Mr Dootson was also fined pounds 10,000 and required to pay costs of pounds 20,000, while Mr Sharples was fined pounds 5,000 and asked to pay pounds 5,000 costs.

Mr Dootson, who was head of Henry Cooke's Manchester private client business, has denied acting on inside information. Both have since left the firm following internal disciplinary proceedings.

According to the FSA, Mr Dootson and Mr Sharples profited by over pounds 11,000 when they took advantage of a tip off that a bid was in the offing for Fine Decor, a quoted company, to buy shares on their own account.

When a few days later a bid approach materialised, Mr Sharples and Mr Dootson realised that the tip off must have come from an insider.

According to the FSA, Mr Dootson and Mr Sharples continued to deal on the basis of information supplied by the insider. The client, it is claimed, at times resorted to the use of a mobile phone to avoid detection. Mr Sharples also allegedly encouraged other clients to buy shares in the company, and some did so. Both Mr Dootson and Mr Sharples later sold their shares at a profit.

The dealings are believed to have emerged after a routine investigation by the London Stock Exchange into the sharp rise in Fine Decor's shares in October 1995, just before the bid.

Neither Mr Sharples nor Mr Dootson were available yesterday for comment.

Henry Cooke said yesterday the firm had co-operated fully with the regulators. "The group values highly its strong investment management reputation, and wishes to emphasise that at no time were client assets put at risk and no client has suffered a loss as a result of this matter. The investigation focused on the personal dealings of the employees involved."

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