Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

U.K. FCA Raids at Lowest Since 2008 Crisis Despite More Probes

  • Regulator carried out 7 raids in 2016 compared with 37 in 2009
  • Number falling yet insider-dealing investigations on the rise

The number of dawn raids carried out by the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority last year was the fewest since the 2008 financial crisis, according to data from a London law firm, despite the agency increasing its case load.

The FCA conducted seven raids -- which involve searching offices or homes often early in the morning and sometimes making arrests -- in 2016, compared with a decade high of 37 in 2009, figures obtained by RPC LLP from the regulator show. Since 2008, the agency carried out more than 10 raids a year until 2014 when the number dropped to eight and has barely risen since.

While the reduction can’t be read as a measure of the FCA’s appetite for enforcement, it’s surprising in light of the new direction taken under the agency’s department head Mark Steward. Since Steward started in October 2015, he’s pushed the enforcement division to pursue all leads, regardless of size or deterrence value, according to current and former FCA employees. The FCA started 70 insider-dealing investigations in 2016, more than double any other year in the last decade, according to data obtained through a freedom of information request by Bloomberg.

A spokesman for the FCA declined to comment.

One reason for a lack of correlation in the data could be the time-lag between the start of investigations and associated raids. One of the regulator’s most high-profile raids in the last decade involved the arrest of seven men in 2010 in its largest-ever insider-dealing investigation, dubbed Operation Tabernula, which was started three years earlier.

The number may already be on the increase this year after the FCA carried out several dawn raids of London brokers in April, in its first major antitrust investigation since receiving new competition powers in 2015.

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