The Guardian: FSA attempts to halt review of Shell verdict: “The FSA announced the penalty in August following a four-month investigation which concluded there had been "unprecedented misconduct" by Shell.”: “If the tribunal concludes that it does have jurisdiction over the case, it means the events surrounding the Shell crisis will be made public, because tribunal hearings are similar to an open court.” (ShellNews.net)
Tuesday October 19, 2004
The Financial Services Authority is trying to halt a potentially damaging review of its procedures by former Shell chairman Sir Philip Watts, who is accusing the City regulator of breaching his rights when it fined the oil company a record £17m.
The FSA is asking the financial services and markets tribunal to rule whether Sir Philip was "identified and prejudiced" when the regulator published the findings of its investigation into Shell's misreporting of its oil reserves this year.
The move follows the action by Sir Philip last month to lodge his own case with the tribunal because he says the FSA did not give him a chance to rebut allegations in the report which accompanied the fine.
The FSA announced the penalty in August following a four-month investigation which concluded there had been "unprecedented misconduct" by Shell.
Although he was not named in the FSA report, Sir Philip argued he was identifiable because he was in charge of the company at the time and was named in some news reports. He blamed the FSA's "undue haste" for failing to allow him to put his side of the story.
The regulator, which conceded yesterday that it is yet to decide whether any individuals involved with Shell did anything wrong, said it was convinced the tribunal would throw out his case.
"We are confident that he was not [prejudiced and identified] and that the tribunal will agree with us. This would mean that the tribunal will have no jurisdiction to consider the other matters which Sir Philip has referred to [it]," an FSA spokesman said.
The City regulator has appointed Lord Grabiner QC to represent it and said Sir Philip had agreed with its decision to ask the tribunal to rule whether he had been identified and prejudiced.
Sir Philip left the oil company seven months after the scale of its reserves scandal became clear. The company has admitted that it over-reported its reserves by almost a quarter and has been forced to embark on a sweeping review of its structure following pressure from shareholders.
Through his solicitors at Herbert Smith, Sir Philip refused to make any additional comment on the situation yesterday. At the time he lodged his application to the tribunal, he said that he was looking forward to a "a full and fair examination of all the facts" which would demonstrate that "I have acted properly".
If the tribunal concludes that it does have jurisdiction over the case, it means the events surrounding the Shell crisis will be made public, because tribunal hearings are similar to an open court.
The FSA pledged yesterday that as it continued its investigation into Shell it would bear in mind the rights of any individuals involved. "We have further inquiries which we are pursuing and we have made no determination whether, if at all, any individual is at fault. If and when the need arises, we will ensure that any affected parties are given their full rights."
The FSA's application to the tribunal is being made at time when the regulatory process is undergoing intense scrutiny. An increasing number of appeals are being made to the tribunal about decisions taken the FSA's regulatory decision committee.
The committee is also without a full-time chairman. Christopher Fitzgerald resigned after discrepancies arose during an appeal brought by Paul Davidson, known as the Plumber.