Former Dresdner banker jailed for insider dealing

 
City A.M. Reporter
A former Dresdner banker has been jailed for three years and four months for running an eight-year insider dealing scam, a record victory for the government's much-criticised banks regulator in its battle against cheats.

Christian Littlewood, who had pleaded guilty to eight counts of insider dealing but blamed his wife Angie and her Singaporean friend Helmy Omar Sa'aid for the extent of the illegal trading, is the most senior banker to be caught while still working by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

The FSA, much criticised for its "light touch" approach to regulation, has since 2008 pursued a more aggressive strategy in going after trading cheats.

"Those rogue traders that let down the honest, discreet majority must be made to pay," Judge Anthony Leonard said in a statement released by the regulator after the judgement on Wednesday.

Angie Littlewood, who teamed up with Sa'aid and used her husband's price-sensitive tip-offs to trade 2.15 million pounds worth of shares -- partly under her Singaporean maiden name Siew Yoon Lew -- was handed a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, by a London court on Wednesday.

Leonard dismissed 37-year-old Littlewood's argument he had only authorised 20,000 pounds of insider dealing per stock.

Angie will be electronically tagged for the first three months of her suspended sentence and will be under curfew at her home between 8am and 7pm.

The judge said Angie had been under her husband's influence, was already suffering from "moderate depression and possible alcoholism" and was a good mother to her three young children.

"In my judgement, you did as you were told to do by your husband," he said.

Jail sentences for insider dealing can run to seven years. But the Littlewood children are aged 3, 5 and 8 and at least one has a serious medical condition, which the judge was asked to take into account when sentencing.

Sa'aid, who has already spent almost one year in jail since being extradited from the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean last March, received a two-year sentence. He will be deported to Singapore.

Insider dealing, which was only outlawed in Britain in 1980, is notoriously painstaking and time-consuming to prove. The FSA only started using its criminal powers in earnest in 2008 even though they acquired in 2001 the power to prosecute the offence.

The government is looking to dismantle the FSA under plans to simplify financial regulation.