The U.K. financial regulator apologized to PVM Oil Futures Ltd., an oil brokerage firm, after its complaints commissioner found its conduct was “unprofessional” during a trading probe.
Financial Services Authority staff misled PVM about a March 2012 meeting to discuss a report on suspicious transactions, tried to remove the firm’s lawyer from proceedings and made intimidating comments about jail time, the commissioner found.
“We recognize the significant powers we have and the responsibilities they bring with them,” the FSA said in a statement. “We want to ensure that we exercise those in a fair, proportionate and professional way. On this occasion we fell short of the standards we set ourselves, which we regret.”
The FSA and PVM have crossed paths before. The watchdog fined a former broker at the company 72,000 pounds ($108,000) in 2010 for trading without client authorization and lying to his employer about it while going on drinking binges.
In the case that led to the apology, the FSA wrote to PVM in October 2011 asking whether the firm had considered filing a so-called suspicious transaction report in connection with trades placed by a client. Three months later, the FSA wrote again to schedule a meeting to discuss requirements for trade reviews in general.
PVM claimed the regulator misled them and that the FSA had planned to use the meeting as an opportunity to obtain evidence to support an enforcement case.
“As regulated persons must act with integrity, so must the regulator,” Sara George, the lawyer at Stephenson Harwood LLP referred to in the complaint, said in an e-mailed statement. “The FSA is responsible for policing the integrity of the markets. The public must have confidence that it applies the same standards of integrity to itself.”
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