* FCA challenges ruling it identified JPMorgan executive
* Supreme Court to examine legal principle of identification
* Ruling has ramifications for FCA enforcement notices
* Judgment could come in three months
By Kirstin Ridley
LONDON, Oct 13 Britain's markets watchdog and a
former JPMorgan executive on Thursday took their legal
battle over alleged improper identification to the UK's highest
court in a case that could limit details published by the
regulator when it fines banks.
In a landmark case, the Financial Services Authority is
challenging a lower court decision that it improperly identified
Achilles Macris when it fined JPMorgan 138 million pounds ($170
million) over the so-called "London Whale" scandal in 2013.
The hearing in the Supreme Court, which could take three
months to publish a judgment, is being closely watched by
lawyers as it will set a precedent for seven similar cases in
which traders say they were unfairly criticised in FCA penalty
notices but were unable to contest findings.
Macris was the former chief investment officer of JPMorgan's
synthetic credit portfolio team in London, which ran up $6.2
billion in losses in 2012 in what were called the "London Whale"
trades because of their magnitude.
The bank was fined $1.0 billion by U.S. and UK regulators
for management failings.
The 55-year-old Greek citizen has so far argued successfully
that the FCA's reference in its JPMorgan enforcement notice to
"CIO London management" referred to a particular individual and
not to a body of people.
Former Deutsche Bank trader Christian Bittar won
a similar case last year after arguing that although he had not
been named, he had been identified when the FCA fined the bank
in a rate rigging investigation in 2015.
The debate hinges in part on how the identification
principle should be broadened beyond the use of proper names or
unique job titles, as those working in financial services can be
more easily identified by peers than ordinary readers.
THIRD PARTY RIGHTS
The FCA's enforcement notices do not name individuals but
they often use references such as "Trader A" or "Manager B" when
publishing details of electronic messages or emails to
Individuals who are identified have a right to respond to
the FCA before notices are published, can refer adverse comment
to a tribunal and ask the FCA to disclose relevant material.
Some lawyers say the legal debate risks disrupting the
regulatory process and limiting the FCA's scope to criticise
companies. Others say there are bigger issues at stake.
"The real concern is not third party rights but the
regulators' practice of investigating and settling with the
institutions before dealing with any individuals caught up in
the case," said Harvey Knight, a lawyer at Withers in London.
"Consequently, individuals have to contend with a case that
their former employer has already settled with their
regulators and the die is cast before these individuals are
given any right of reply."
Macris was fined almost 800,000 pounds by the FCA in
February for failing to be "open and cooperative" with the
regulator as losses mounted in the JPMorgan division he oversaw
between March and April 2012.
Macris, who has spent the last four years trying to clear
his name, at the time called the fine a "major climbdown" by the
Bittar, along with five other former traders, faces a
criminal trial next September over alleged conspiracy to
manipulate Euribor interest rates.
($1 = 0.8042 pounds)
(Reporting by Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Keith Weir)