SFA's Barings cases face collapse

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The Independent Online
At least two of the final three cases being brought by the Securities and Futures Association against former Barings' staff face collapse following the successful appeal by former director Ron Baker last week.

In a humiliation for the City watchdog, Mr Baker, the bank's former head of financial products, was cleared on four of five charges by the SFA's own appeals tribunal and kept his licence to practise in the industry.

The SFA has three more tribunal hearings pencilled in for appeals against proposed fines and disqualifications.

They include Mary Walz, a former Barings director, who was global head of equity financial products and worked directly to Mr Baker.

The charges brought against Ms Walz are similar to the ones against Mr Baker, for which in all he received just a reprimand, the lowest form of sanction.

"The SFA must be reconsidering its position on her case, given that she was in a subordinate position and her charges are similar," a source said.

A tribunal set for January against Ian Hopkins, Barings' former head of group treasury and risk, may prove the SFA's sternest test yet.

Mr Hopkins has threatened not to appear, claiming that charges against him over the pounds 800m crash last year are groundless.

He has already made his concerns about the SFA public and has given evidence to the Treasury & Civil Service Select Committee. In front of MPs, he claimed the status of a whistle-blower, having alerted senior Barings management to some of the dubious events in Singapore under rogue trader Nick Leeson.

James Bax, who oversaw the Singapore operations, is also appealing. The tribunals are due to be completed by the end of February.

Tomorrow is the last day the Select Committee will take evidence on the debacle, with Bank of England Governor Eddie George set for a grilling.

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