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Stock exchange told it must 'step up to the plate'

TOUGH talking Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield yesterday gave senior management at the stock exchange a tongue lashing for failing to help investors who believe they have been ripped off by stockbrokers over the past decade.

The exchange was criticised for not ruling on cases where clients such as credit unions claim they were sold unsuitable investment policies before November 2007.

The Regulator now rules on complaints about investments sold after this date while the exchange rules on investments where a complaint was made before this date. Neither will rule on cases where investments were sold before November 2007 but a complaint was only registered after this date.

"It is unacceptable for such a regulatory gap to persist," Mr Elderfield told a Dail committee yesterday. "I appeal to the senior management of the exchange to step up to the plate on this issue if all other avenues are indeed closed." His remarks poured fuel on a fiery argument between his office and the stock exchange over who should be responsible for such policies.

The problem is growing by the month as charities, credit unions and rich individuals receive letters informing them that many investments made at the height of the boom are now worthless.

Mr Elderfield said senior management at the exchange had told his organisation that it would be able to deal with the pre-November 2007 problems but "this is no longer the situation".

Stock exchange chief executive Deirdre Somers could not be contacted last night. A spokesman said the exchange shared the Regulator's concerns and would work towards finding a solution.

Ms Somers and exchange chairman Padraic O'Connor had appeared before the economic and regulatory affairs committee in March to explain the problem which emerged after rules were changed to chime with European Union directives to stop stockbrokers effectively hearing cases against themselves.

Mr Elderfield said legislation may not be possible to close the gap.

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