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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
FSA to trim investigation times
Magnifying glass
The FSA wants to focus on fewer, more effective investigations
The UK's financial watchdog plans to cut the time it takes to investigate companies and individuals by 30%.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) wants to refer cases more quickly and simplify documentation.

FSA chairman Callum McCarthy said that "the critical thing about enforcement is speed", adding that "justice delayed is justice denied".

The watchdog has handed out almost 23m ($42.6m) in fines since the end of 2001, when it took over regulation.

Spotlight

One of its most recent and high-profile cases was the investigation of newly appointed Marks & Spencer chief executive Stuart Rose.

The probe was launched after Mr Rose purchased M&S shares shortly before a takeover bid for the firm was launched.

Even though the FSA is still looking into other suspicious share trades, Mr Rose's case was checked out, and dropped, within two weeks.

John Tiner, the FSA's chief executive, said that the investigation "was a high priority issue for us".

Speaking after the regulator's annual meeting, he explained that: "What we are much better at now than we have been in the past is prioritising where to put our resources," he said.

Mr Tiner went on to say that the FSA would try to bring fewer, more effective, investigations.

The watchdog also said it wants to ease the testing related to money laundering, fearing that the current strict requirements may exclude many people from the financial system.

"I do think that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far," said Mr Tiner. "The industry needs to be more creative about what they are trying to protect against."


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