The number of fines issued to senior bankers by the U.K.’s financial watchdog has fallen 40 percent since 2010 as the new regulator continues to seek its first “big fry.”
The Financial Conduct Authority handed out 18 fines to finance workers classified as performing a so-called significant influence function in 2013, marking a decline from the 30 it issued in 2010, law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP said in a report.
“Individuals have got so much more to lose and so they are much more willing to fight allegations of wrongdoing tooth and nail,” Richard Burger, a partner at London-based RPC, said in an e-mailed statement. “Not only are there substantial fines at stake, their reputation and career are on the line.”
The FCA took over market regulation from the now defunct Financial Services Authority a year ago. Fines to firms increased in the last days of the old regulator, hitting 313.4 million pounds ($527 million) at the end of 2012 compared with 66.1 million pounds in 2011.
In one of biggest penalties of 2012, the FSA fined Barclays Plc, the U.K.’s second-biggest bank, about 60 million pounds for attempting to manipulate the London interbank offered rate. UBS AG was fined 29.7 million pounds in 2012 by the FSA for operational risks after a $2.3 billion loss from unauthorized trading by Kweku Adoboli.
The old FSA had been criticized by lawmakers for failing to target a high-profile banker or trader as had been prosecuted by their counterparts in the U.S.
“We recognize the need to go after bigger fry, not because they’re wealthy or high profile -- we want to go after the people we actually think are causing the most damage to the market,” Tracey McDermott, the head of enforcement at both the FCA and the FSA, said in a 2011 interview.
Around 55,000 people are considered to be performing significant roles in U.K., a classification that includes chairmen, chief executive officers, non-executive directors and chief risk officers, RPC said.
Individuals fined this year by the FCA include Mark Stevenson, a former Credit Suisse Group AG bond trader with nearly 30 years’ experience, who was fined 662,700 pounds for deliberately manipulating the price of U.K. government bonds.