The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has named ex-pat Kiwi Samantha Barrass to replace the outgoing chief executive, Rob Everett.
Barrass, head of the Gibraltar financial regulator over 2014-19, will take up the role next January with FMA general counsel, Liam Mason, stepping in as interim chief from October when Everett officially departs.
Most recently, the incoming FMA chief headed up the formation of the UK Business Banking Resolution Service, “an innovative service designed to resolve disputes between banks and their business customers”, according to a release.
She previously spent nine years in various roles with the UK equivalent of the FMA, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as well as stints at the UK Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the London Investment Banking Association.
In a statement: FMA chair, Mark Todd, said: “Ms Barrass has had a very successful career to date, operating in a number of complex and challenging environments. Her knowledge and experience of the insurance and banking industries will be particularly relevant for the increased role the FMA is to play in those areas.
“… She successfully led the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission through a period of evolution and expansion. Her experience as a consensus-building leader will stand the FMA in good stead as it continues its current activities and readies itself for a wider mandate in regulating banks and insurers, as well as climate change reporting.”
Barrass studied at the University of Canterbury and the Victoria University of Wellington before beginning a career as a Reserve Bank of NZ economist. She moved to the UK for further study where her career in UK and European regulation took off.
She has also been involved in several legal disputes involving her former Gibraltar employer. According to publisher GBC Online, Barrass reached an out of court settlement with the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (FSC) last year, ending an employment tribunal dispute dating back to 2019.
“… Barrass was replaced as CEO at the Commission by Kerry Blight on 1st October 2019, despite having nearly a year left before her contract was due to end,” the GBC Online report says.
“… Ms Barrass caused some controversy during her five years as the Commission’s CEO when she accepted a non-executive role on the Board of PWC’s UK Public Interest Body.
She is also facing a libel lawsuit, along with her former Legal Director Peter Taylor and the FSC itself, filed by local lawyer Nick Cruz. He is claiming defamation following media statements made by the Commission after the collapse of Enterprise Insurance, the firm where Mr Cruz was a non-executive chairman.”
In a statement, the FMA says the board “was aware of these matters from the outset as the result of its due diligence and is completely confident that these matters raise no issues of concern”.
“The employment case is subject to the usual confidentiality requirements, was settled over a year ago and was considered of no relevance. The PwC appointment was supported and approved by the Chair and Board of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission and was subject to standard conflict management policies,” the statement says. “The FMA Board carefully considered the context of the defamation case and regarded it as an occupational risk associated with a high profile regulatory role of this type. It’s clear from the broad range of due diligence discussions that Ms Barrass’s time at the GFSC was very highly regarded by the GFSC and elsewhere, Ms Barrass was seen as an empathetic leader, who builds strong, inclusive cultures.”
The UK native Everett joined the FMA in 2014 as the second chief of the newly reformed regulator, previously known as the Securities Commission.