Whistleblowing up 88% in UK’s financial services sector
Prosecutions for white collar crime in the financial services sector are likely to increase in 2014 following an 88% rise in the number of whistleblowing reports received by the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) 'Whistleblowing desk', according to international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Data obtained from the FCA by Pinsent Masons shows that whistleblowing reports have increased by 88% since the FCA took over from the Financial Servies Authority (FSA) in April 2013. Reports increased from an average of 338 a month in the FSA's final year to an average of 638 a month in the first seven months since the FCA took over as regulator.
Over 1,100 reports (since March 2012) were deemed serious enough to be pursued by the regulator; of these around 60% (683) were about general regulatory concerns. Investigations into more serious wrongdoing were low: there were four reports of 'misappropriation of client money'; 23 of 'Insider trading'; 21 of 'market manipulation' and 25 cases of 'money laundering' were pursued.
Michael Ruck, a senior financial services enforcement lawyer at Pinsent Masons and formerly with the Financial Conduct Authority was keen to point out that the rise in reports was not necessarily a result of more wrongdoing in the City.
"It is likely the result of the combination of increased focus on compliance and the tightening of controls following criticism from the financial regulator," he explained.
"People working in FCA regulated firms are becoming increasingly aware of their reporting obligations. The threat of multi million pound fines and a new push toward personal accountability means that staff at authorized firms, their suppliers and clients are all now 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 Whistle-blowers 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."