SFA to face MPs' quiz over Barings

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The Independent Online
The Securities and Futures Authority, the City regulator headed by Richard Farrant, is to be summoned to appear within weeks before a committee of MPs to explain its decision to discipline a former Barings executive described as a "whistleblower".

The SFA will be questioned by the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee over its move to discipline Ian Hopkins, former head of group treasury and risk at Barings.

Other former executives who may be called before the committee include Andrew Tuckey, deputy chairman at the bank, and Peter Norris, former head of securities.

Mr Hopkins is thought to have approached the committee after a move by the SFA to ban him from working within the industry for up to three years and make him pay costs thought to be of pounds 10,000 for his role in the the bank's collapse.

However, he is understood to see himself as a whistleblower, who drew the activities of Nick Leeson, the Singapore trader who cause Barings collapse, to the bank's attention several months earlier. Nine former Barings executives are said to be facing disciplinary action by the SFA.

One MP, who would not be named, said: "The SFA has a lot to answer for. I hope we will be calling on them to appear before the Committee and tell us why they have taken this prejudiced stand against a brave whistleblower like Hopkins.''

A deadline for them to accept the SFA's action passed on Friday. Two executives, including Mr Hopkins and Ron Baker, former head of derivatives trading, are believed to be opposed to the decisions taken against them. Mr Baker's penalty is believed to be similar to Mr Hopkins'.

Barings was brought down in February last year by losses of some pounds 860 million run up by Leeson in the high-risk derivatives market in Singapore. He is now serving a six and a half year sentence in the state's Changi Prison after admitting two counts of cheating.

Barings was rescued by Dutch banking group ING. In April last year, 20 key Barings staff based in Singapore, Tokyo and London left the company.

Although Mr Hopkins and Mr Baker were both criticised by the Board of Banking Supervision inquiry into the bank's collapse, they were not held to be responsible for what happened by a separate inquiry ordered by the Singapore Ministry of Finance in October 1995.

The Singapore report said: "In our view the collapse might have been avoided if Mr Hopkins' concerns had been taken seriously and acted upon promptly.''