As reported in the Financial Times, Jamie Symington, the head of investigations at the Financial Conduct Authority, announced last week the regulator’s plans to target financial crime, including failures in bribery and sanctions controls within the entities it regulates.
Mr. Symington also emphasized the FCA’s continued and enhanced cooperation with UK and overseas criminal and regulatory enforcement agencies, making referrals where it deemed appropriate. His remarks underline the FCA’s 2014/15 business plan which set out that it would have a greater focus on anti-money laundering, antibribery, wholesale conduct, and market abuse during the year ahead.
Regulated firms should be mindful that, unlike under the Bribery Act, the FCA requires them to be pro-active. It is far easier for the FCA to take successful action against a regulated firm for a failure in its systems and processes than it is for the Serious Fraud Office to bring a criminal charge (where bribery has to be proved). A summary of the most recent fines handed out by the FCA appears on its website.
The FCA appears set to continue increased and enhanced enforcement actions for compliance failings against banks and other regulated entities well into 2015 and beyond. FCA-regulated organisations and their senior managers should therefore be taking immediate pro-active steps to ensure that their systems and controls for the prevention of corruption and financial crime are properly implemented and rigorously tested so that, if and when the FCA comes knocking, systems can be shown to be demonstrably effective. Any firm which ignores these warnings from the FCA does so at its peril.
Caroline Black is a partner in the London office of Dechert LLP. She’s is a criminal defense and investigations lawyer focused on cross border regulatory or internal investigations. She advises organizations, boards, and audit committees on conducting investigations and interacting with relevant national authorities, including the UK Serious Fraud Office, HMRC, and the police (and their overseas equivelents).
Anneka Randhawa, an associate with Dechert, advises clients on internal and regulatory investigations, compliance and corporate governance issues. Her work focuses on matters involving bribery, corruption, fraud (including tax fraud), SFO and FCA enforcement.