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Former Competition and Markets Authority boss faces conflict ban as he takes consultancy job

The recently deceased chief executive of Britain’s competition watchdog has been told he is not allowed to lobby the regulator or the government for two years as he takes on a role in the cabinet of American consultancy Keystone Strategy.

Dr Andrea Coscelli left the Competition and Markets Authority’s top job in July and will now co-manage Keystone’s European operations and lead the new offices in London and Brussels.

According to a letter released by the government’s Professional Appointments Advisory Committee, which adjudicates on applications from senior civil servants for outside employment, Coscelli will face a number of restrictions to “mitigate the risk that he may be perceived as providing Keystone and its customers with unfair access and influence on regulatory matters”.

These include not advising Keystone on work that took place during his tenure as CMA chief or lobbying regulators in a personal capacity for two years.

The “significant knowledge of privileged material” that Coscelli has gained while investigating mergers and cartels for the watchdog means he cannot take on the role of Keystone until January.

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Coscelli’s letter was reported for the first time by The temperature. AMC and Keystone Strategy were approached for comment.

Acoba’s advice comes at a key time for the City’s relationship with its competition watchdog. Extensive investigation into potential anti-competitive practices in financial services keep on dragging onhaving been extended several times.

With the next update expected in the spring after additional evidence gathered recently, some experts predict the CMA’s findings could be harsher than originally expected.

The CMA will also play a role in overseeing the deployment and regulation of open banking technology as part of a new committee of regulators.

A Report of the National Audit Office published in May revealed that while the responsibilities of the CMA had increased significantly following Brexit, “recruiting the right specialist skills” remained a challenge, with around a quarter of positions in legal and economic services remaining vacant.

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Former CMA senior staff ended up in private sector positions after their departure. Former President Lord Andrew Tyrie joined the law firm DLA Piper as a political consultant, after leaving following disagreements with Coscelli, among others, on the board of directors.

Coscelli’s departure coincided with a period of wider uncertainty atop the competition watchdog. Tyria’s early departure left an interim president in charge. After a long appointment raceformer Boston Consulting Group senior partner Marcus Bokkerink was named to the role some two years later.

The Coscelli CEO position is also being filled on an interim basis. Coscelli announced his planned departure to his colleagues in June 2021, Sky Newsreported.

To contact the author of this story with comments or news, email Justin Cash


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