FSA’s Verrier ban only scratches the surface at BGC Partners
May 16th, 2012 (Minor edits to final para, January 25th 2014)
The Financial Services Authority today imposed a lifetime ban on Anthony Verrier, a senior executive at interdealer brokers BGC Partners, who two years ago was described by a judge as a liar with an extraordinary proclivity for “losing” Blackberries and mobile phones.
On March 18th, 2010, Verrier (pictured right) was found guilty of orchestrating a conspiracy to poach ten staff from rival firm Tullett Prebon. Mr Justice Jack upheld Tullett Prebon’s claim that Verrier, who formerly worked at Tulletts, led a campaign to poach the staff by inducing them to unlawfully breach their contracts and defect to his new employers BGC.
The FSA said it was banning Verrier, 48, because “it appears to the FSA that [he] is not a fit and proper person due to concerns over his honesty, integrity and reputation.” The FSA’s Decision Notice [PDF] on Verrier, published this morning, contains some real gems.
Mr Justice Jack, summing up, March 2010:-
“I found that in his evidence Mr Verrier stuck to the truth where he was able to, but departed from it with equanimity and adroitness where the truth was inconvenient.”
“…it was becoming clear that Mr Verrier was looking to lift a large number of brokers from Tullett, to try and cripple the company and upset [someone from Tullett]. I accept the evidence I have referred to in the paragraph as generally accurate.”
“Between April 2008 and April 2009, Mr Verrier lost or disposed of eight Blackberries. His last Blackberry was found to be locked by password. Mr Verrier could not explain how that had happened and said he never used a password … I am satisfied that it was Mr Verrier’s gambit to ‘lose’ blackberries whenever he thought they might contain inconvenient material, and that his instructions were the cause of at least some of the mobiles being lost. I am satisfied that the inaccessibility of the contents of his last blackberry due to a missing password was a deliberate ploy.
The Appeal Court judge said:-
“However cunning and cautious Mr Verrier had been in his choice of words at the Bleeding Heart, it is clear from the Judge’s findings that then and afterwards he succeeded in communicating the reality that he and BGC were set upon bringing about a mass early departure… ”
“In the context of a catalogue of ‘illegal and dishonest conduct’, that is an exercise in cherry-picking, albeit of a somewhat putrid cherry, which goes nowhere. …
The FSA said given the High Court proceeding and the Court of Appeal’s very carefully considered judgement,
“The FSA is satisfied that a further investigation would not have been an efficient use of its resources. The FSA notes that Mr Verrier believes that he has done nothing to justify an order being made against him. In the light of all the very damaging findings made by the High Court, the FSA finds this surprising … Mr Verrier will not be employed by the UK regulated firm, he will not be in any senior management position in a UK regulated firm and he will not be an approved person. He would not exert influence on the BGC activities in the UK.”
Now, this is all well and good. It is not right that someone as dishonest and lacking in integrity as Verrier should run a major financial institution. But there is probably much more still to come out of BGC Partners. Concerned about feeble controls at the firm, the FSA imposed major operational restrictions on the US-owned firm last June, but there’s been no update on how well the unnamed ‘Big 4’ accountancy firm sent in to the former Cantor Fitzgerald by the FSA with a “large-scale program of remediation to address the issue” is getting along. Indeed, we don’t even know which audit firm was given the task.
Furthermore, I have had no idea whether the PWC insolvency practitioner David Chubb, sometimes known as “Mr Pre Pack”, continues to defend the “prepack” deal by which Mint Partners’ creditors were effectively ‘shafted’ as part of BGC’s August 2010 acquisition of its smaller rival.
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