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THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Showdown looms in Watts’s fight with FSA

THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Showdown looms in Watts’s fight with FSA

“The FSA’s notice, published in August, explained why it had decided to fine Shell £17m over the affair. Watts, who was ousted from Shell in March 2004 following the scandal, first complained to the tribunal last September. He claimed that although the FSA report did not refer to him by name, he was effectively identified and prejudiced.”:

Sunday 17 July 2005

By Sylvia Pfeifer (Filed: 17/07/2005)

The bitter dispute between Sir Philip Watts, the former chairman of Shell, and the Financial Services Authority over whether the City regulator violated his rights will come to a head next week.

The Financial Services & Markets Tribunal, which hears appeals against FSA decisions, will hold a preliminary hearing on July 25 on whether the regulator should have given Watts an opportunity to respond before it published its damning findings into Shell’s overstatement of its reserves last year.

The FSA’s notice, published in August, explained why it had decided to fine Shell £17m over the affair. Watts, who was ousted from Shell in March 2004 following the scandal, first complained to the tribunal last September. He claimed that although the FSA report did not refer to him by name, he was effectively identified and prejudiced.

Under Section 393 of the Financial Services & Markets Act, people named in regulatory actions are allowed to view evidence relating to them and make representations before judgments are published.

Watts said in September: “The FSA violated my statutory rights to review and rebut the allegations.” Herbert Smith, his law firm, called the FSA’s investigation “limited” and said it published its findings with undue “haste”.

Following Watts’s complaint, the FSA in October asked the tribunal to decide at a preliminary hearing whether his allegations were valid. If the tribunal rules in the FSA’s favour next week there will be no basis for a full appeal.

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