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UK regulator fines Christopher Gent 80,000 for disclosing insider information

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The UK financial regulator fined Sir Christopher Gent $80,000 for illegally disclosing inside information when he previously served as chairman of medical device manufacturer ConvaTec.

Gent is a prominent city figure, formerly CEO of telecom group Vodafone and non-executive chairman of pharmaceutical company GSK. He stepped down as Chairman of ConvaTec in 2019.

The Financial Conduct Authority said on Friday that Gent in 2018 had inadvertently disclosed inside information to high-ranking individuals of two ConvaTecs major shareholders before the information was released.

The FCA said it was a disclosure related to ConvaTecs CEO’s retirement plan and guidelines revision. The information was provided to shareholders at least two days before Sir Christopher thought there would be an announcement.

ConvaTec’s share price fell more than 35% the day it downgraded its growth outlook and announcing the immediate retirement of former CEO Paul Moraviec.

These fines show how seriously financial regulators take insider information sharing, regardless of motives or whether individuals benefit.

Gent emerged as Vodafone’s CEO in the late 1990s, leading the telecom company’s global expansion. He pursued a controversial 110 billion-dollar hostile takeover of Germany’s Mannesmann, which earned him a 10 million bonus. He was knighted in 2001.

The FCA argued that Gents would have learned that disclosure of information was not permitted through considerable experience with ConvaTec and insider trading training.

In a statement, the FCA said Sir Christopher should have been aware that the information he had disclosed could or could have been inside information and that it was outside the normal scope of his job to disclose it.

Regulators said there was no evidence that Gent traded the information or intended to gain personal benefit or avoid loss through disclosure.

In a statement, Gent said he was very disappointed that the FCA found it against me in a situation where I thought I was encouraged to seek advice and act the way I did.

Gent confirmed that the FCA ruling had no market impact, said he had no personal gain and had no intention of doing so, adding that he would not appeal the decision.

He added, “The case in question retired from my corporate life three and a half years ago and now I want to draw a line on this issue.”

Mark Steward, FCA’s Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said: Private disclosure of inside information, particularly by the chairman of a publicly traded issuer, jeopardizes investor confidence and the integrity of financial markets. Sir Christopher did not properly apply his ideas as to what information he could adequately disclose.

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