THE Financial Services Authority (FSA) has hit Vantage Capital Markets with a £700,000 fine for allowing a senior figure to operate without the regulator’s approval.
Daniel Hassell worked for interdealer broker Vantage for more than four years and had “significant influence” on the company, the FSA found.
Vantage was formed as a limited liability partnership in 2004 and has three capital partners.
Hassell was not a capital partner, but despite a job title of “consultant”, exercised a significant influence over Vantage, the regulator said.
The majority of the brokerage business was previously owned by Hassell and generated around half of Vantage’s revenues.
He had applied to the FSA to be recognised but withdrew the application when it raised concerns over giving him that status.
The investigation revealed that Hassell received approximately one third of the firm’s profits, the remainder being shared between the capital partners.
He was also sometimes presented as an owner in correspondence.
He stepped back from the frontline in 2009 after the FSA launched its probe. According to insiders he now plays no role in the company.
FSA director of enforcement and financial crime Margaret Cole said: “Vantage failed to prevent an individual from acting in a significant influence role without FSA approval. It knew that the FSA did not regard that individual as a suitable person to manage the firm.”
FAST FACTS | FSA FINE
● FSA fines interdealer broker Vantage £700,000 after failing to secure FSA approval for Daniel Hassell.
● The FSA’s rules require that key company figures are approved as fit and proper.
FSA DIRECTOR OF ENFORCEMENT
Margaret Cole joined the FSA in July 2005 as director of enforcement. She is a graduate in Law from New Hall, Cambridge and is a solicitor with over 20 years’ experience in private practice, specialising in commercial litigation with an emphasis on financial services. She is also qualified as a mediator with CEDR and the ADR Group. From 1990 to 1995 Cole was a Partner with Stephenson Harwood, where she was responsible for the recovery actions in relation to the Maxwell Pension Funds on behalf of the Pension Funds Trustee. In 1995 she joined the London Office of international law firm White & Case to found and head its Dispute Resolution Department. Notable cases at White & Case include representing RBC in proceedings in London and New York regarding an Enron-related $500m (£337m) swap transaction.
She had a reputation as a tough litigator and has bought those skills to the FSA which having been described as “toothless” by some commentators in the past has in recent times launched and concluded a number of high profile investigations.
At the time of her appointment many City lawyers thought she would add backbone to the FSA. With the regulator facing being stripped of many its powers in favour of the Bank of England there is still a sense of unfinished business, with a number of cases remaining ongoing.