UK regulator fines Christopher Gent £80,000 for disclosing inside information

The UK financial regulator has fined Sir Christopher Gent, former chair of medical equipment maker ConvaTec, £80,000 for unlawfully disclosing inside information.

Gent shot to fame in the late 1990s and early 2000s as chief executive of Vodafone, driving the company’s global expansion and pushing through the controversial £110bn hostile acquisition of Germany’s Mannesmann.

The Financial Conduct Authority on Friday said Gent had “negligently” disclosed inside information “to individuals in senior positions at two of ConvaTec’s major shareholders before this information had been announced properly to the market”.

The disclosures related to a revision of guidance and plans by ConvaTec’s chief executive to retire, the FCA said.

“Sir Christopher should have realised that the information he disclosed was, or may have been, inside information and that it was not within the normal exercise of his employment to disclose it,” the FCA said in a statement.

The regulator said there was no evidence that Gent “traded on the information or that he intended to make personal gain, or avoid loss, from making the disclosures”.

In a statement, Gent said he was “very disappointed that the FCA has found against me in circumstances where I believed I had sought advice and received encouragement to act as I did”.

Gent said the FCA ruling confirmed “there was no impact on the markets and that I made no gain personally, nor intended to do so”, adding that he would not appeal against the decision.

“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,” he added.

Mark Steward, FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “Private disclosure of inside information, especially by the chairman of a listed issuer, risks investor confidence and the integrity of financial markets. Sir Christopher failed to properly apply his mind to the question of what information he could properly disclose.”

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