WHEN Martin Wheatley announced his departure from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) he received an ominous send-off. Locals, angered by his ultimate responsibility for regulating loss-making Lehman mini-bonds, gathered outside the watchdog’s offices to play traditional Chinese funeral music while they burned pictures of Wheatley.
It appears their prediction of his demise was premature; yesterday, Wheatley was named as the inaugural head of the Consumer Protection and Markets Authority (CPMA).
Once the CPMA is spun out of existing the FSA – which is being chopped – it will serve as the main regulator for Britain’s securities markets, as well as overseeing how financial firms treat their customers. In the interim, he will become managing director of the FSA’s Consumer and Markets Business Unit.
Despite the protests that accompanied his departure, Wheatley’s stint at the SFC was marked by several successes, including a raft of insider dealing cases that saw ex-Morgan Stanley boss Du Jun jailed for seven years.
He joined the SFC in 2005 from the LSE, where he was deputy chief executive. He had been in the running for the top job in 2001 but lost out to Dame Clara Furse (who was on the panel that recommended Wheatley to the chancellor).
The news will be galling for the FSA’s director of enforcement Margaret Cole, who was seen as the front running internal candidate. It comes on the same day that her team at the FSA secured a record jail term for insider dealing.