By Huw Jones
LONDON – Britain’s financial watchdog will speed up its response to cases of financial misconduct and fraud after criticism it has been slow to tackle the soaring rate of scams costing consumers millions of pounds.
The watchdog said on Friday that it was introducing proposals it put out to public consultation in July that certain decisions regarding authorisations, starting civil proceedings and using powers to curb a financial firm’s activities should be taken by its executive staff.
Such decisions had been taken at arm’s length, by its Regulatory Decisions Committee, which in future will focus on significant misconduct cases, the FCA said.
Britain is facing a wave of financial frauds and scams costing consumers 754 million pounds in the first six months of this year, up 30% from the same period in 2020, piling pressure on the FCA to act more aggressively.
The watchdog was also criticised for being too slow in its handling of London Capital & Finance, an investment fund that collapsed, forcing the government to pay compensation to investors.
FCA Chief Executive Nikhil Rathi said earlier this year the watchdog should be readier to test its powers to the limit instead of being worried about challenges to its decisions in court.
“We want to be an organisation that runs toward the fires of complex, difficult issues – and to try to put them out,” Rathi said in July.
The FCA said on Friday that most respondents to its public consultation were concerned that speed and efficiency were being emphasised unduly and would increase the potential risk of a lack of fairness and objectivity in decision-making.
The watchdog made no changes to its proposals, saying its procedures provide a fair process.