A senior investment banker and his wife have been charged with insider dealing, in a case that sees the Financial Services Authority calling for the extradition of a suspect from abroad for the first time.
This comes just days after Hector Sants, the outgoing chief executive of the City watchdog, said market abuse in the UK was still "unacceptably high".
Christian Littlewood, a banker at Dresdner Kleinwort and later Shore Capital, and his wife, Angie Littlewood, a Singaporean national also known as Angie Lew and Siew Yoon Lew, were yesterday charged with 13 counts of insider dealing and one count of conspiracy to commit insider dealing.
The pair were arrested last April following a series of raids by City of London police and FSA staff. They have been bailed to attend City of Westminster magistrates' court on 6 April.
Former colleagues expressed their surprise. One said: "Christian seemed the least likely person to do something like this. He wasn't a flamboyant character or a big ego banker. He was a bit grey."
Mr Littlewood's lawyers at the firm Russell Jones & Walker offered a prepared statement saying he had "co-operated with the investigation from the outset and is disappointed with its conclusion. He looks forward to being able to clear his name at trial".
The alleged offences relate to trades in several stocks listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Alternative Investment Market that started in 2000 and carried on until last year. As part of the case, a Singaporean national has been arrested in French overseas territory in the Comoros Islands on charges of insider dealing and faces a hearing to be brought to the UK. This is the first time the FSA has sought extradition from abroad to face criminal charges in Britain. A source close to the regulator said it was "upping the ante, by calling for extradition, the long arm of the FSA is reaching further".
Mr Sants, who is to quit the regulator this summer, said the FSA is to expand its investigation arm by 10 per cent as it seeks to clean up the market.
Last week the highest profile prosecution brought by the FSA ended in a successful conviction. Malcolm "Streaky" Calvert, a former partner at Cazenove, was convicted on five counts of insider dealing and sentenced to 21 months in jail.
The FSA is currently pursuing two other such cases. In January, Neil Rollins was charged with five counts of insider dealing at Westminster Magistrate's Court and four counts of money laundering. He has taken his fight over the laundering charge to the Supreme Court, and the regulator is waiting on the result before proceeding.
Separately, Andrew King, a finance director at NeuTec Pharma, was charged with insider dealing after allegedly passing details over its proposed takeover by Novartis to the lawyer Michael McFall. Mr McFall then allegedly passed the information to Andrew Rimmington, another lawyer. Both bought shares in the company. The lawyers have also been charged.
An FSA spokesman said of its crackdown on alleged market manipulation: "We want to send a message to the City that if you engage in this behaviour you will be caught and the consequences will be unpleasant."Reuse content