64% rise in whistleblowing

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Data obtained from the Financial Conduct Authority by Pinsent Masons shows that whistleblowing reports have increased by 64% since the FCA took over from the FSA in April 2013. Reports increased from an average of 338 a month in the FSA’s final year to an average of 556 a month in the FCA’s first year.

The FCA opened 1,035 cases and created 860 intelligence reports as a result. The majority of whistleblowing cases pursued referred to general regulatory concerns but unauthorised business, fraud and market abuse made up 20% of the intelligence reports.

Michael Ruck, a senior financial services enforcement lawyer at Pinsent Masons and formerly with the Financial Conduct Authority says: “These figures will be welcomed by the FCA as they demonstrate growing faith in the regulator to take action against wrongdoing. Last year the FCA’s handling of whistleblowing came under fire from the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. The commission reported evidence from whistleblowers that “demonstrated a lack of confidence in the regulator’s willingness and ability to support them and to act upon their concerns.”

“The number of whistleblowing contacts received by the city regulator has rocketed 414% since 2008/09 but the recent rise in whistleblowing reports is not necessarily a result of more wrongdoing in the City. Instead it is likely the result of the combination of increased focus on compliance and the tightening of controls following criticism from the financial regulator.

“The FCA’s focus on individual responsibility, in addition to corporate fines, is starting to change people’s behaviour. The threat of multi million pound fines and a new push toward personal accountability mean that staff at authorised firms should now be very aware of their compliance obligations.

“The UK already has some of the highest whistleblowing rates world wide* and numbers are set to increase even further if plans to financially incentivise whistleblowers who report crimes are implemented.”

“Under new government plans whistleblowers who report financial crime could be rewarded with a cut of the money they gain back for the taxman. No doubt this will lead to a surge of white-collar informants seeking big payouts.”

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