New path for FSC

LATION over Everton McFarlane’s exit from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) ended on Monday when Finance Minister Dr Nigel Clarke told the country that the regulator needed fresh leadership to take it along a new path.

Last Thursday, a day after McFarlane presided over a news conference at which he dodged questions about the multi-billion-dollar fraud at brokerage house Stocks and Securities Limited (SSL), word came that he had submitted his resignation and that Kerron Burrell, the Bank of Jamaica’s chief prudential officer, had been seconded to the FSC to act in the role.

That announcement was made by Clarke shortly before he issued a statement promising full transparency into the issues which led to the fraud.

The FSC has been taking flak for what is seen as its lax approach to dealing with SSL, which it had flagged as a “problem institution” in a 2017 report in which the regulator even acknowledged the brokerage house had “a culture non-compliance and mismanagement of clients’ funds”.

On Monday, while delivering a special policy address on regulation of the financial sector in light of the SSL fraud, Clarke said the institutional arrangements and approach of the FSC over the past 13 years that have been highlighted by the SSL case cannot take Jamaica into the future.

“Last week I had a discussion with the executive director that we need to pursue a new approach at the FSC and I would need him to make way for that. Without hesitation he concurred and agreed to provide his resignation with terms of his exit from his three-year contract that would have expired in July 2023,” Clarke said.

He announced that Burrell will succeed McFarlane as executive director, and four members of the board of commissioners had volunteered to provide vacancies that allowed him to appoint Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor Richard Byles as the new chairman, while other BOJ executives, Wayne Robinson, senior deputy governor; George Roper, deputy governor and former deputy executive director of FSC; and Jide Lewis, will also serve on the FSC board, all with immediate effect.

Clarke said the immediate responsibilities of the new board, in addition to what customarily applies, will be to oversee the current intervention into SSL, establish a mechanism to review the FSC’s approach to the SSL case in order to identify any gaps or constraints, and assess the status of other licensees and whether there are concerns or potential concerns in respect of any company in the securities industry.

— Vernon Davidson

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