UK watchdog fines oil services co Lamprell 2.4 million

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's financial watchdog has fined oil services firm Lamprell Plc <LAM.L> 2.4 million pounds for failing to keep the market fully informed of its deteriorating financial position last year.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) said the penalty for Lamprell was the first for such rule breaches under a tougher new policy which bases fines on a company's market capitalisation, resulting in a much bigger sanction.

The fine would have been 30 percent higher had the United Arab Emirates-based company not settled early.

Lamprell's shares in London were down 2.8 percent at 144 pence at 09:29 a.m. Briti sh time, much weaker than the wider market. The FTSE All Share index <.FTAS> was down 0.6 percent.

"Lamprell could not adequately monitor its financial performance against its budget and against market expectations and therefore failed in its obligations as a listed company to keep the market fully informed of its deteriorating financial position during early 2012," the FSA said on Monday.

The company was also too slow in acting to prevent its employees from continuing to deal in its shares once its poor performance had been recognised by senior management.

"Lamprell's systems and controls may have been adequate at an earlier stage, but failed to keep pace with its growth," Tracey McDermott, the FSA's director of enforcement and financial crime, said.

Lamprell said its board had been determined to strengthen the company's internal systems and financial reporting.

"The board recognised that it was in the best interests of the company to accept the position reached with the FSA, so as to avoid incurring significant additional expenses and expending the further time that would be required to pursue the matter," Lamprell's non-executive chairman John Kennedy said.

(Reporting by Sarah Young and Huw Jones; Editing by Lorraine Turner and David Holmes)