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Northern Rock could have been averted if FSA learnt from Eq Life, says action group

The Equitable Life Members’ Action Group told MPs that Northern Rock and the banking crisis might have been avoided if the FSA had learned its lessons from Equitable Life.

At a public administration committee meeting yesterday, Colin Slater deputy chairman of Emag criticised the lack of accountability of the regulator saying it is responsible to nobody as it is exempt from being sued and has been outside the jurisdiction of the parliamentary ombudsman since 2001.

He said: “It had lessons to learn in Equitable Life. One was to watch very carefully companies with unique business models, which may sound familiar and which was certainly Equitable Life.

“The second one was to look very hard at complex legal documents which purported to be worth huge sums of money.

“If the FSA had had to pay compensation in 2001 as a result of not doing those things, it would have tried much harder in the subsequent period and we may not have had Northern Rock because it would have seen that business model coming.”

Slater added: “We may not have had much of the banking crisis because it would have looked much harder at all those collateral debts and the various complicated documents that turned out to be valueless.

“The cost of that has been infinitely more than the cost of paying up for Equitable Life in 2001.”

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