Out of Control
A brief press release by the FSA announced that it had successfully brought its second prosecution for change in control offences. Semperian pleaded guilty to acquiring an interest in an authorised firm before receiving approval from the FSA (SUP 11 refers). Semperian’s fine of £1,000 contrasts with last year’s action against the sole director of mortgage broker Exetra for change of control offences; there the fine was £3,000. More interesting is reading alternative press accounts of the Semperian case which put a different spin on the FSA’s victory.
According to these articles the FSA dropped charges against two other Semperian entities and Semperian’s chief executive – with the FSA agreeing to pay legal costs. The magistrate is quoted as saying that rather than Semperian undermining the regulatory system by not obtaining prior approval, the FSA was doing a good job of undermining itself by only bringing two prosecutions against the hundreds of companies that have failed to get approval before takeovers.
Note that due to the date that the offence was committed the maximum fine that could have been imposed was £5,000. However since March of last year the courts now have the power to impose an unlimited fine.