Super-SIB will face problems, warns Imro

Phillip Thorpe, chief executive of Imro, the fund managers' watchdog, warned yesterday that Labour proposals for a powerful single regulatory body, dubbed "super-SIB" by the City, risked creating a "massive bureaucracy".

Mr Thorpe said the enlarged Securities and Investments Board (SIB), headed by Howard Davies, which would swallow up his own organisation, offered the prospect of a simpler, more integrated form of regulation.

"There are some gains to be made from such a move, the elimination of gaps and overlaps, the levelling of unlevel playing fields, the more efficient use of resources and so on," Mr Thorpe said. "There are also some predictable concerns to be recognised: particularly that this could create a massive regulatory bureaucracy, unable to respond to the rapid change of the markets, or given to seeking common solutions where previously bespoke arrangements best accommodated investor and business needs."

Imro is part of a project team set up by the SIB and which includes the Bank of England working on plans that will be submitted to Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, by the end of July. Mr Brown announced plans to pass supervision of the banking community from the Bank of England to the SIB within days of Labour winning the General Election.

The second phase will see other self-regulatory organisations, such as Imro, the Securities and Futures Authority (SFA) and the Personal Investment Authority (PIA), folded into the SIB within the next three years.

Mr Thorpe stressed that he believed Mr Brown would be "on guard" to avoid the potential pitfalls in his proposals.

He said: "The regulator must be, and must be seen as, independent in its operation and must have the knowledge, involvement and support of the industries it seeks to regulate. It must also be open and accountable if it is to secure the confidence of investors and those who it regulates."

The Imro chief executive's comments were made as the regulator published the annual report on its activities. The regulator said it had 44 investigations in hand at the end of March 1997 while 43 disciplinary actions had been taken during the year, up 26 per cent from last year.

In the 12 months to April 1997, Imro levied more than pounds 3.5m in fines and investigation costs from its members, up from pounds 835,000 the previous year. That total did not include the pounds 2m, plus pounds 1m in costs, levied in April on Morgan Grenfell, the fund management group owned by Deutsche Bank, over the irregular trading activities of its rogue fund manager, Peter Young.

Imro said yesterday it had been successful in ensuring that nearly all pensions mis-selling cases in which its members were involved had been reviewed.

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