Fund manager Gartmore saw its stock tumble by almost a third yesterday after its star manager Guillaume Rambourg was suspended.
A statement disclosing the suspension came at the close of a week of intense City speculation that the firm could be involved in the massive insider trading investigation being carried out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
Before the announcement, Gartmore denied rumours linking it to the FSA investigation, which centres around a possible connection with Clive Roberts, one of seven men arrested in the joint swoop with the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Rambourg is now the focus of a major internal investigation after allegedly “directing shares”. The firm said the incident is not related to the FSA’s highly publicised probe.
Gartmore fund managers must send their trades to a central desk for execution. It is understood Rambourg’s alleged breach involved trades made outside the usual central desk system although it is not known what, if any, advantage he is alleged to have gained.
Rambourg joined Gartmore in October 1995. He is a senior investment manager in the European equity team.
He and Roger Guy also co-manage the firm’s European hedge funds. Together Rambourg and Guy manage more than 20 per cent of Gartmore’s £21bn investments.
Major accounts include the Alphagen Tucana Fund, which rose 42% last year, and Alphagen Capella, which rose 12%. Gartmore said assets managed by Rambourg will be taken on by Guy.
The massive FSA insider dealing probe was carried out over three years. It led to the arrest last week of Roberts, the head of European sales at BNP Paribas’s partly-owned Exane brokerage unit, Martyn Dodgson, a corporate broker at Deutsche Bank, Julian Rifat, an equities trader at hedge fund Moore Capital and Graeme Shelley, an equities trader with small broker Novum Securities.
Two others, Iraj Parvizi and Ben Anderson are private investors, while the seventh has not been identified. It was revealed yesterday the men are now being forced to live on just £300 a week after their assets were frozen as part of the investigation.
This sum includes the amount they have to spend on food, utility bills, mortgage payments and school fees. It also includes the vast legal fees the men will be required to pay. Rifat has hired Kingsley Napley partner Stephen Pollard to defend him, the same lawyer who represented rogue trader Nick Leeson. The men will be forced to rely on hand-outs from friends or apply for legal aid.
In a separate case, Helmy Omar Sa’aid was in court yesterday for alleged insider dealing and conspiracy to commit insider dealing. He was extradited from Mayotte, a French overseas territory in the Comoros Islands, in a case linked to investment banker Christian Littlewood and his wife Angie who were last month charged with 13 counts of insider dealing.