FCA to Overhaul Treatment of Whistleblowers

Since the banking crisis, the number of whistleblower reports jumped from less than 150 in 2014 to 1,360.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Britain’s financial market watchdog, is planning to overhaul its approach towards handling whistleblowers, according to a Financial Times report.

The agency will revisit its measures to maintain the confidentiality of the whistleblower as a part of the overhaul. It will further look into the process of information sharing between supervision and enforcement teams along with ways to enhance senior oversight of its investigations.

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As per the report, the watchdog agency will share the details of its plan later this year.

Last year, the FCA faced massive criticism for numerous lapses in handling whistleblower cases and concealing their identities. One such case was with a former Royal Bank of Scotland employee whose identity the agency revealed during an investigation in 2013. The agency was even told to issue a public apology for this incident.

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According to the Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner, an authority which handles complaints against watchdogs, the FCA did not take proper measures to establish whether a whistleblower had sought anonymity.

Last month, the FCA revealed that most of the banks operating in the United Kingdom are not assessing and escalating whistleblower concerns consistently while some of them need significant improvement in arrangements to protect those who come against the wrongdoings of an establishment.

Mary Inman, head of the international whistleblower practice at the law firm Constantine Cannon, welcomes the proposed changes by the FCA but believes that much more has to be done to protect whistleblowers’ interest.

“It takes courage for people to come forward in the face of the risk whistleblowing poses to their careers, so it’s incredibly demoralizing to work up to that courage to report and then see the FCA not take action,” Financial Times quoted Inman.

US vs. UK

Unlike the FCA, its counterpart in the United States has much stronger rules for whistleblower protection. Moreover, the SEC even financially incentivize whistleblowing, something UK whistleblowers do not enjoy.

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