Hannam Shows a Woolly Grasp of Confidentiality, FCA Says

Ian Hannam, formerly one of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)’s top merger advisers, is fighting a proposed market-abuse fine with a “woolly, implicit understanding of confidentiality,” lawyers for a U.K. regulator told a court.

Hannam is contesting a 450,000 pound ($728,000) civil market-abuse fine from the Financial Conduct Authority in a London trial that started in July. Hannam was seeking more bidders for Heritage Oil Plc (HOIL), when he disclosed to an investor in 2008 that another potential acquirer had made an offer.

If the information Hannam passed on his client Heritage Oil Plc is “not inside information, what is inside information?” Richard Boulton, a lawyer for the FCA, said during closing arguments today. If Hannam wins “it opens the floodgates to the selective disclosure of inside information.”

Hannam, who resigned from the New York-based bank after the civil fine, is one of the highest-profile finance workers the regulator has sought to fine. Hannam was among the bankers advising Xstrata Plc before it was acquired by Glencore International Plc. (GLEN)

The regulator “points to the fact that Mr. Hannam held a very senior position at his firm and was a role model for others,” Hannam’s lawyers said in court documents. “That does not mean that it is appropriate to make an example out of him in the name of deterrence by imposing a penalty that is not warranted in the circumstances.”

Hannam’s lawyers also contested the size of the fine, pointing to the fact it was “higher than many cases of deliberate disclosure” by other dealers.

Two e-mail messages form the basis of the FCA’s case. Hannam, has said the notes were in the “best interest” of his client, Heritage Oil.

To contact the reporter on this story: Suzi Ring in London at sring5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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