An investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) can have severe repercussions for you and your business. Restraint of assets and confiscation proceedings can be devastating, not to mention the long-term damage that can be done to your commercial reputation.
At Saunders Law, we have extensive experience supporting clients through the complex process of an FCA investigation. We have a strong track record when it comes to halting investigations at an early stage, as well as successfully defending any prosecutions that arise from an investigation. Our specialist Regulatory Solicitors deliver high-quality legal advice throughout, taking a strategic and solutions-driven approach to achieve the best outcome for you.
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Solicitors in London
The FCA is an independent, government-enforced agency, which acts as the primary regulator of the financial markets. It provides its services to consumers while also making sure that the standards of the UK’s financial markets are upheld, focusing on the conduct of retail and wholesale financial services firms. As well as having responsibility for regulatory enforcement in respect of the financial services industry, the FCA has the power to bring criminal proceedings when there is evidence of misconduct by individuals or institutions operating in this sector.
The FCA’s powers are extensive – it can investigate businesses and professionals who are accused of breaching the UK’s financial codes of conduct. For those under investigation, the FCA can:
- Suspend them and/or their firm from carrying out regulated activities
- Withdraw a firm’s authorisation
- Fine those who breach FCA rules or commit market abuse
- Bring criminal proceedings to tackle financial crimes – this includes market manipulation, insider dealing or fraud
- Apply for injunctions, winding-up orders and restitution orders
- Suspend firms from carrying out regulated activities for 12 months
- Suspend individuals from undertaking specific controlled functions for two years
- Fine or publicly censure those found to have breached the FCA rules
- Seek compensation on behalf of their consumers
- Undertake interviews and request the disclosure of information in pursuit of a prosecution
FCA Investigations – Why Might I Be Investigated?
If you or your firm fails to adhere to the standards set by the FCA, a formal investigation may be initiated. An investigation can arise because of money laundering, insider dealing or fraud allegations.
While many professionals believe that only individuals in senior management positions can be investigated, this is not the case – the FCA has increasingly chosen to target a wide variety of individuals who are affiliated with illegal activity within the financial services industry.
If the FCA has contacted you, you must seek specialist legal advice immediately. Our FCA Investigation Solicitors can guide you through the investigation process from the outset, ensuring your position is protected.
The FCA Investigation Process
Investigations are initiated by way of a Notice of Appointment served on the individual or firm. FCA investigators will then collect evidence by conducting interviews and recovering documents, both digital and hard copies. Once this process is complete, the FCA will inform the individual or firm under investigation of their preliminary findings. They will have the opportunity to make a written response to these findings.
A resolution period follows – if the FCA decides the conduct warrants sanction, the individual or firm will be given the opportunity to resolve the case in full or in part. If an agreement can be reached on the facts, liabilities and penalties, there is scope for a penalty discount under the FCA's penalty discount scheme for early resolution. If consensus cannot be achieved, the party under investigation may challenge the findings of the FCA in part or in whole before the FCA's Regulatory Decision Committee.
When an individual or company is suspended as a result of a breach of regulations, the FCA has wide-ranging powers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). These include the ability to take disciplinary action and to undertake civil or criminal proceedings against businesses or individuals accused of wrongdoing. Criminal proceedings will typically be pursued when the conduct in question represents a serious offence, with civil proceedings including injunctions and restitution proceedings used in other cases.
Our expert FCA Investigation Solicitors have experience advising clients in respect of an extensive range of FCA investigations, including:
- Consumer credit
- Unauthorised collective investment schemes
- Online issues, including promotions and disclaimers
- Arranging investments
- Unregulated pensions products
- Corporate identity and ownership
- Exemptions in respect of SCSIs and HNWIs
- Handling the publication of decisions and applications for reviews
We appreciate that finding yourself the subject of an investigation by the FCA can be extremely stressful and confusing, even for the most experienced professional. Our lawyers will draw on their skills and experience in regulatory compliance and white-collar crime to assist you with:
- Dawn raids
- Compelled interviews and document disclosure
- Searches of your premises and seizure of documents
- Protecting your privilege
- Proceedings before the Regulatory Decisions Committee (RDC) and upper tribunal
- Bans from working in the financial services industry
- Variation and withdrawal of permissions
We can offer advice that is both tactical and realistic, and we will work tirelessly on your behalf in pursuit of the best possible outcome from any investigation by the FCA.
Saunders Law is one of the UK's leading firms when it comes to handling criminal, civil and regulatory investigations with many years of experience in judicial review proceedings. We have acted on behalf of many clients to resist winding up and injunction proceedings in the High Court, as well as for those facing prosecution. We can provide legal support that is tailored for your needs and can call on the assistance of specialist barristers, forensic accountants and compliance consultants if your case requires it.
Contact our FCA Representation Lawyers in London
From the earliest stage of any FCA investigation, our specialist solicitors can provide you with legal advice that is clear, comprehensive and pragmatic.