Outgoing chiefs of City watchdog get £803,000 for handover

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The Independent Online

Britain's City watchdog paid three top directors £803,000 to leave the organisation, according to its final annual report published yesterday.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) gave its former chief executive Hector Sants £300,178 for a six-month handover period, while the chairman, Lord Turner, received £252,000. The enforcement chief, Margaret Cole, was paid £250,897 for five months' notice.

The FSA said the payments were "contractual entitlements" and the three were either barred from taking any paid employment, or were restricted in the roles they could take during that time.

Shortly after his notice period ended Mr Sants joined Barclays on a package reported to be worth £3m after turning down an offer from Deloitte.

Ms Cole joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as general counsel, where she will sit on the UK board and could have doubled her FSA salary of £600,000.

Lord Turner has various roles on boards and committees and sits on the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee. His total pay for the year was £785,153, while Mr Sants received £550,441. Neither received a bonus.

Martin Wheatley, who has since taken over as the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, one of the FSA's two successor bodies, was paid £667,085 for seven months' work, including an £86,000 bonus.

The FSA said its policy was to set salaries "at, or around, the median of the relevant market competitive levels".

The watchdog also revealed that the levels of possible "insider trading" by people with knowledge of takeover deals before they are announced declined in 2012 to their lowest level since 2003. In total, some 15 per cent of deals saw suspicious price movements in the shares of either predator or prey before an announcement, down from 20 per cent in 2011 and 21 per cent in 2010.

However, deal activity is much lower than before the financial crisis. The lack of dubious price moves could be because miscreant traders have become more circumspect, fearing that their activities would stand out because of deals' rarity value.

Simon Morris, from the City law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, said: "The bare facts beg several questions – much insider dealing uses price-sensitive information that is not merger-related and this is not reflected in this statistic.

"Further, if over one merger in eight is still preceded by potentially suspicious dealing, why has the FCA/FSA only brought a bare handful of cases? Are we really to believe it lacks adequate powers or resources in such a key area? The message must be that the FCA should fulfil its own call to action."

Bankers face curbs

Stephen Hester's £1.2m salary as chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland would have been capped, even with bonuses on top, at £471,000 under new European rules on state aid on lenders. To encourage executives not to tip their banks into such a dire crisis that they have to be bailed out, the EU has said senior staff in banks receiving new state aid would earn no more than 15 times the pay of the average employee. Bonuses would be capped at two times salary under rules due to take effect next month.

Further measures include rules to force banks to wipe out their shareholders and creditors before getting state aid.

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