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ABN Amro fined £900k for share price misconduct

ABN Amro Equities has been fined £900,000 by the FSA for market misconduct and serious compliance failures.

The regulator has also slapped a £70,000 fine on former joint head of the UK equity trading desk Michael Ackers for market misconduct.

The fines relate to a series of events in 1998 which saw the UK equity team acting to push the closing market prices of certain shares to a higher level than they would otherwise have been.

This happened on three occasions between April and October 1998 in respect of four stocks and involving several different traders. The stocks involved were Carlton Communications, British Biotech, Volkswagen and Metro.

Trading in stocks simply to move the market price is a serious abuse, according to the FSA, as it distorts market forces and undermines investor confidence.

The Amro fine is the fifth biggest that the regulator has handed out. It is rare for individual employees to be fined.

Since the incidents occurred, Ackers has been disciplined internally and has moved on to head the UK small and mid-cap trading desk.

FSA managing director Carol Sergeant says: “These were not isolated events. The repeated nature of the breaches demonstrates the absence of a robust compliance environment on the firm&#39s trading floor.”

ABN Amro spokesman Steven Blaney says: “This is a five-year-old matter over which ABN Amro has worked cooperatively with the regulator, which it has recognised. This is a reflection of the firm in 1998 and not in 2003.”

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