Christopher Ollerenshaw and Thomas Reeh are the former Chairman and CEO of Black & White Group Limited (in liquidation) respectively. The company was a relatively small one, whose main business was mortgage broking, especially in the sub-prime market.

The RDC proposed that both men receive relatively large headline fines and prohibition orders. Both referred their cases to the Upper Tribunal. The Tribunal found serious breaches of Principle 1 (integrity) and Principle 7 (SIF ensuring compliance with regulatory system). For the purposes of this publication, the facts are not particularly interesting or unusual. Whilst there is some interest in the fact that the Tribunal reduced their financial penalties, the most interesting aspect of the case for readers will no doubt be the reasons why the Tribunal did not uphold the prohibition order against Reeh (Ollerenshaw's prohibition order was upheld).

The Upper Tribunal's ruling

Comment

Ollerenshaw had built the business and was the owner of it. His salary was twice that of Reeh, and he was very much the boss of what was his business. Further, the Tribunal considered that he was out of his depth in modern financial services regulation, with FSA regulation having come late in his professional life. Whilst the Tribunal is not entirely clear on what persuaded it not to make a prohibition order against Reeh, it does say that it considered all the submissions, including those that Reeh:

  • is fundamentally honest and no danger to the markets
  • has learned from this experience
  • had never been in regulatory difficulty before this case and has been in no trouble since
  • four and a half years have gone by
  • he has built a new financial services career in Australia
  • if a prohibition order had been made, he would probably lose his job and pointless distress would be caused to his family.

Despite taking a serious view of his failings (including finding a lack of integrity), the Tribunal said it was "persuaded, just" that an Order against Reeh was not necessary. The Tribunal stated that "we do not consider that he is currently not a fit and proper person to perform regulated functions". The Tribunal no doubt was persuaded by the uncommonly long period of time that had passed since the matters in question, and Reeh's rehabilitation since that time.

As regards the rehabilitation, it is also interesting that the Tribunal did not want to impose a level of penalty which would have the effect of bringing his fresh start to an end. For a variety of reasons connected to this, it reduced his headline penalty figure (itself reduced from the RDC £170,000 figure) from £75,000 to £10,000.