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Gina Miller calls for UK's top financial watchdog boss to resign

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Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
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Anti Brexit campaigner Gina Miller speaks to the media outside the High Court in London, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. The High Court  has rejected a claim that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is acting unlawfully in suspending Parliament for several weeks ahead of the country’s scheduled departure from the European Union. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Anti Brexit campaigner Gina Miller speaks to the media outside the High Court in London, Friday, September 6, 2019. Photo: AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Gina Miller — the fund manager, financial campaigner and outspoken Brexit critic — has called for the boss of Britain's top financial watchdog to resign.

Miller, whose day job is running fund manager SCM Direct, and her husband Alan on Tuesday wrote a letter to Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) chair Charles Randell calling on him to step down.

The Millers urged Randell to quit "in the light of anti-consumer and potentially unlawful steps taken by the FCA on his watch."

The pair accused the FCA of rewriting its own rules to make it almost impossible for consumers to claim compensation in cases where the regulator has been found wanting. 

The FCA said it was "simplify[ing] the wording" of its complaints scheme and had consulted on the changes. It added that the FCA complaints scheme was "not intended to be a compensation scheme of last resort when things go wrong."

READ MORE: Fears of 'whitewash' as Neil Woodford plots comeback

In their letter, the Millers detailed what they claimed were "serious errors, faults and anomalies" at the FCA that "conflicted with existing legislation" and "were contrary to the rights of consumers."

"The changes we have identified in the FCA Complaints Scheme have taken place on the watch of its Chair, Charles Randell," the Millers said. "Mr Randell appears to sanction changes that would make it almost impossible for future victims of scandals such as LC&F to receive any monetary compensation for any regulatory failures by the FCA.

"With power comes responsibility and integrity, but the serious issues identified by True and Fair are so egregious that there can be only one honourable outcome – namely for Mr Randell to step down and the government launch an independent inquiry into governance at the FCA.”

The Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Charles Randell, speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event, in London, Britain July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
The chair of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Charles Randell, speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event, in London, Britain July 11, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The Millers run the True & Fair Campaign, which campaigns for fair financial services for consumers. To the broader public, Gina Miller is best known as the face of the legal challenge against the government for triggering Article 50 in the Brexit process.

The broadside against the FCA comes amid intense pressure on the regulator over failings related to the collapse of London Capital & Finance (LC&F), an investment firm that raised £237m ($329.4m) from small-time investors before its collapse. The incident is being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

Many LC&F victims believed they were buying products backed by the FCA, which was not the case. A damning report into the FCA's dealings with LC&F was highly critical of the regulator's handling of the company.

READ MORE: Bank of England governor damned over £237m London Capital & Finance collapse

LC&F victims have struggled to win compensation since LC&F's collapse in 2019. Earlier this month the government stepped in to set up a £120m fund to support victims.

In correspondence, Randell had claimed that consumers could only claim compensation from the FCA is losses were solely the result of the regulator's failings and nothing else. The Millers said this was an almost impossible hurdle for claims and said it went against the spirit of the rules as they were written.

A spokesperson for the FCA said: "We are sending the Millers a reply which responds to the issues about the complaints scheme they have raised.

“We have consulted on the changes to the scheme to simplify the wording of the scheme and to provide more clarity about how complaints will be dealt with in particular where ex gratia payments will be made.

"The scheme was set up to investigate complaints against the FCA and was not intended to be a compensation scheme of last resort when things go wrong. We investigate every complaint fully and they can result in changes to the way we operate.”

READ MORE: Bank of England governor should face 'consequences' for LCF failings

Gina Miller has been a persistent critic of the FCA. Last year she sought to block then-FCA boss Andrew Bailey's move to the Bank of England after claiming he had been "asleep at the wheel" during his time in charge. Miller has pointed to LC&F and other scandals such as the collapse of Neil Woodford's investment firm as evidence that the regulator is chronically ineffectual. 

Randell told MPs in March he was "deeply conscious" of impact the FCA's failings in the LCF case. He said he was "profoundly sorry" to victims.

"The buck stops with me," he said.

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