UK watchdog fines veteran businessman Gent 80,000 pounds

·2-min read

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's financial watchdog said on Friday it has fined Christopher Gent 80,000 pounds ($97,104) for unlawfully disclosing inside information in 2018 when he was non-executive chairman of medical technology company ConvaTec.

A former CEO of Vodafone and former non-executive chairman of GlaxoSmithKline, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Gent disclosed information about an expected announcement by ConvaTec relating to a revision of its financial guidance and the CEO’s plans for retirement.

The FCA said that given Gent's training and experience, he should have realised the information was, or may have been, inside information and that it was "not within the normal exercise of his employment to disclose it".

Gent, 74, said he was very disappointed that the regulator found against him in circumstances where he believed he had sought advice and received encouragement to act in the way he did.

"The decision acknowledges the steps I took to obtain advice at the time and has not questioned my belief that I was acting in the best interests of the company," Gent said in a statement, adding that he would not be appealing the ruling.

"The events in question took place over three and a half years ago - I have since retired from business life and wish now to draw a line under the matter and have decided not to refer this decision to an independent Tribunal," Gent said.

The FCA, which has signalled it will take a more aggressive stance on market abuses, said there was no evidence that Gent sought to make a personal financial gain or avoid a loss from making the disclosures.

"Private disclosure of inside information, especially by the chairman of a listed issuer, risks investor confidence and the integrity of financial markets," said Mark Steward, the FCA's executive director of enforcement.

"Sir Christopher failed to properly apply his mind to the question of what information he could properly disclose," Steward said.

($1 = 0.8239 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Jason Neely)

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