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UK watchdog plans to overhaul treatment of whistleblowers

UK watchdog plans to overhaul treatment of whistleblowers
FILE PHOTO: Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, speaks at his office in London, Britain, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde   -   Copyright  AFOLABI SOTUNDE(Reuters)
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By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – Britain’s markets watchdog said on Sunday that it plans to overhaul its treatment of whistleblowers to make it easier for people to come forward.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that it would announce details of the plan in the new year but was looking at how it maintains whistleblower confidentiality; how information is shared between supervision and enforcement teams; and how it can enhance senior oversight of investigations.

The plan was first reported by the Financial Times.

The watchdog has called for better protection of people who come forward but has also faced criticism for its own treatment of whistleblowers.

Earlier this year, it was told to apologise to a former Royal Bank of Scotland <RBS.L> employee for having revealed his identity to the bank in a whistleblower case in 2013.

The Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner, which handles complaints against watchdogs, said that the FCA had failed to take sufficient care to establish whether the complainant had sought anonymity.

Last month, the FCA said that most British banks are not assessing and escalating whistleblower concerns consistently, adding that some of them need to improve arrangements to protect those who lift the lid on wrongdoing from victimisation.

The regulator received its highest number of disclosures from whistleblowers after its director for supervision, Megan Butler, warned financial firms in May about failing to tackle sexual harassment.

The disclosures related to racism, physical bullying and homophobia, as well as issues around gender, Christopher Woolard, the FCA executive director for strategy and competition, said this month.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Susan Fenton)

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