Former Keydata boss stuck with £76 million FCA fine

The Upper Tribunal, the independent Court that hears appeals from FCA decisions, last week upheld the regulator’s decision to fine Stewart Ford, the former CEO of Keydata Investment Services Limited, a huge £76million (the largest FCA fine on an individual) and ban him from working in the financial services industry.

The Tribunal decided that the FCA had been correct to ban and fine Mr Ford for a lack of integrity, and for failing to deal with the regulator in an open way after he made false statements during compelled interviews with the regulator.

The record fine results from allegations of active concealment and lack of integrity.

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Suspicious Activity to Report? Careful how you draft as you might have to disclose what you say in confidence.

The recent High Court decision in Lonsdale v. National Westminster Bank plc [2018] EWHC 1842 (QB) serves to highlight that the content of a suspicious activity report (“SAR”) could be discloseable to an opponent in Court proceedings. Not only that – it could also form the basis of a claim in defamation.

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Court reviews summary judgment jurisdiction in dispute over pension plan guarantee

The recent High Court decision in Caribonum Pension Trustee Limited v Pelikan Hardcopy Production AG [2018] EWHC 2321 (Ch) will provide some comfort for pension plan trustees owed money by insolvent sponsoring employers by allowing trustees to pursue guarantors within the same group for those debts.

What was contended to be an abuse of Court process has been confirmed by the Court as a legitimate debt recovery strategy. This was on the basis that a contractual agreement, a guarantee, was in place that was legitimately enforceable by a pension plan trustee.

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A step towards UK crypto-asset regulation? Treasury Committee Report finds current status “clearly not sustainable”

Last month, the House of Commons Treasury Committee published its report on crypto-assets. The report expresses serious concerns about the risks of consumer harm and financial crime and calls for regulation “as a matter of urgency“. Continue Reading

Breaking news. FOS money awards and jurisdiction: all change in 2019?

In a move designed to (in their own words) ‘ensure more complainants receive fair compensation’ and to ‘build consumer trust in the integrity of the industry’, on 16 October 2018 the FCA published a Consultation Paper in which the regulator outlines proposals for increasing the Financial Ombudsman Service money award limit from £150,000 to £350,000 for upheld consumer complaints.

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FCA takes steps to improve pension transfer advice

Safeguarding pensions and retirement income have been high on the FCA’s agenda for a while now. In the FCA Business Plan for 2018/19 it said:

We want to ensure that consumers are equipped to make good decisions to fund their retirement such as through appropriate advice or guidance, and can access good quality, value for money retirement products. We also want to ensure consumers know how to avoid pensions’ scams and poor deals

The FCA has been particularly active in trying to tackle poor quality pension transfer advice as a risk to its consumer protection objective. We have seen significant supervisory and enforcement activity in the area in 2018. There have been high profile issues around transfers from some defined benefit (“DB”) schemes such as the British Steel pension scheme.

On 4 October the FCA published a Policy Statement (PS18/20) on “Improving the quality of pension transfer advice”. The PS takes forward a range of policy proposals on which the FCA had consulted in CP18/7 to address perceived failings in the pension transfer advice market. Continue Reading

Breathe easy, the SFO calls it a day in privilege battle

Last month we reported that the Court of Appeal (The Director of the SFO v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Limited [2018] EWCA Civ 2006) had reversed the High Court’s controversial and troubling decision from 2017 that concerned the extent to which litigation privilege could apply to documents generated in the context of internal investigations

It was announced earlier this week that the SFO will not be pursuing an appeal to the Supreme Court.  So the Court of Appeal decision stands and companies can continue to conduct their own investigations into potential wrongdoings without fear of possibly having to reveal the legal work product to prosecutors, governmental authorities or regulators at a later stage.

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FCA caseload at record levels despite dropping more cases than ever

The Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) continues to see its caseload increase to record levels despite the fact that it is dropping more investigations than ever before. Recently published statistics reveal that in the year ending March 2018 a total of 208 investigations were ended compared to 115 in the previous year and 98 in 2015/16.

The FCA’s Enforcement Annual Performance Report 2017/18 reveals that the total number of cases open rose from 410 on 1 April 2017 to 504 as at 31 March 2018 despite the case closures, meaning that an additional 302 cases were opened in that period. Continue Reading