FCA watchdog Martin Wheatley: I am not hunting for bankers’ scalps

Tim Wallace
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Martin Wheatley said managers must be held accountable
Top watchdog Martin Wheatley yesterday denied he wants to “put heads on sticks” or to go “scalp hunting” in his campaign to make banks and managers more accountable.

In a firm defence of the plan to make bosses of failed banks prove they took reasonable steps to mitigate risks, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chief said he is determined to make the process fair to those involved.

Critics have argued that the changes amount to a reversal of the burden of proof, by making the accused prove their innocence.

But Wheatley said it is “common sense” to make managers admit to which departments they have been responsible for.

Speaking at an event organised by the think tank ResPublica, Wheatley expressed his frustration at the “corporate filibustering” within some banks he has dealt with.

“We’ve had the experience where we’ve had a rogue trader, and we’ve gone to the firm and said, can we talk to the manager.... and they said, we’re not sure who that is,” said Wheatley.

“We did the work and identified at least four people who could be the responsible manager. So they come to us armed with a battery of lawyers to give us convincing reasons why they were not the manager.”

As a result, he said the FCA has to make sure banks and their staff have a clear hierarchy and accountability structure, and that managers will be expected to manage those below them.

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