UK Plans More Enforcement for Compliance Failures

January 26, 2015

This article, authored by Dechert partner Caroline Black and associate Anneka Randhawa, was published by The FCPA Blog on 26 January 2015.

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.