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New financial markets watchdog opens for business

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Financial Markets Authority officially opened for business today, almost a year to the day after Commerce Minister Simon Power announced its formation.

The FMA takes over the functions of the Securities Commission and Government Actuary which are being disestablished, and consolidates other regulatory functions from the Ministry of Economic Development.

"I'm confident that the FMA will lift the bar in terms of market behaviour and will have the tools it needs to help restore mum and dad investor confidence in our financial markets, which has taken a battering in recent years," Mr Power said today.

"It's clear that if we are to broaden and deepen our financial markets to benefit companies looking to raise capital, our financial sector must be subject to clear rules, and visible, proactive, and timely enforcement."

The FMA has powers, functions, and duties that its predecessors did not, including:

The power to exercise an investor's right to take civil action against a financial market participant when it's considered to be in the public interest to do so. Individuals can opt out of proceedings if they choose.

The ability to prevent products from being structured to avoid being supervised by the FMA.

Enhanced warning powers to deal with low-ball unsolicited offers. Anyone with a history of making unsolicited offers will be made to display a prominent warning to that effect when they send documents to investors. The FMA can also require unsolicited offers to include minimum-offer periods, and disclosure of market price and other relevant information.

A new oversight regime for registered exchanges, including the ability to undertake real-time surveillance of market activity.

The FMA is headed by chief executive Sean Hughes, while Simon Allen chairs the board of Shelley Cave, Colin Giffney, Mary Holm, Murray Jack, James Miller, Justine Smyth, Michael Webb, and Mark Verbiest, and associate members Bruce Sheppard, Rebecca Eele, and Arthur Grimes.

"This group of people, with its blend of skills and experience, is exactly what the FMA needs to make its presence felt in our markets.

"I'm also aware that the FMA has inherited a number of outstanding legal cases that are still before the courts. These cases are important for both the investors and directors involved, and I'll be watching the outcomes closely."

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