Morgan four seek inquiry on ruling

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The former Morgan Grenfell directors implicated in the Peter Young fund management scandal are to call for an independent inquiry into the handling of their case by Imro, the City regulator.

At least three of the four former directors disciplined last week by Imro are expected to write to the watchdog's chairman, asking for an independent inquiry and alleging there was a "clear abuse of process" during the investigation.

The issues to be raised in the letter to Douglas McDougall, Imro's chairman, include concerns about the length and the costs of the investigation as well the tribunal process.

All four former directors chose to settle with Imro rather than take their case to an independent tribunal process amid fears over escalating costs.

One of the four said: "Because it's all been so appalling, we feel we have to do something. We believe there are sufficient powerful reasons to call for an independent review."

Five directors at Morgan Grenfell Asset Management (MGAM) were dismissed in 1996 following the discovery of "serious irregularities" in three funds managed by Peter Young, currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

Four of the five - Paul Ebling, Graham Kane, Glyn Owen and Michael Wheatley - were disciplined by Imro last week. Keith Percy, formerly MGAM's chief executive, is still negotiating with the watchdog and is believed to be considering taking his case to an independent tribunal.

One of the four said: "There is no effective appeal process. Imro's executive acts as judge, prosecutor and jury. The alternative [to settling with Imro] - the disciplinary tribunal - is out of the question in terms of finance. My lawyer advised me that to go to tribunal with a decent QC would cost a quarter of a million pounds. And that's just my costs. You also run the risk that, if you lose, you end up picking up Imro's bill too."

Legal sources estimate that Imro's tribunal costs could exceed pounds 500,000.

The former director said his letter would highlight the time the investigation had taken. He also pointed to the fact that, with the exception of Mr Ebling, none of the dismissed directors were interviewed by Imro before MGAM was disciplined in April 1997. He said: "This was prejudicial to our position. The company admitted certain charges, and by admitting these, it made us very difficult for us to do anything."

An Imro spokeswoman said letters to the chairman were considered on an individual basis, and pointed out that Imro's disciplinary process was agreed after "considerable consultation with the industry".

She added: "No one has made anyone settle. Settlement is an agreement"

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