The FCA has a wide range of powers when it comes to enforcement of their rules. This includes much more than just court action. The aim of the FCA is to deter anyone from breaking the rules, therefore, enforcement proceedings can be taken against any company that is in breach, even those who are not FCA authorised.
The FCA look to catch wrong doers out early so the enforcement team work closely with every other department in the FCA to ensure every possible rule breaker is investigated.
The enforcement powers
This includes a whole range of powers, including both civil and criminal penalties, in an effort to protect consumers from wrong-doers.
Some examples of the enforcement powers of the FCA include:
- Withdrawing authorisation
- Banning a firm from providing regulated services
- Suspending a firm or individuals from providing regulated services
- Fines for breaches of FCA rules, market abuse or breach of competition law
- Publicly announcing disciplinary actions and details of warnings and final notices
- Civil actions in court for injunctions, restitution orders and winding-up
- Criminal prosecutions for financial crimes
- Warnings and alerts about unauthorised firms
This is not an exhaustive list of all the powers of the FCA because the enforcement action they take depends on the situation. The enforcement could also include more than one of these powers.
The entire process of the FCA disciplinary procedure is long, complex and depends on the enforcement action being taken. For example, procedure through the criminal courts will be a much different process to withdrawing authorisation.
Generally, the process will start with a notice to the firm that an enforcement investigation is being conducted, followed by discussions with the firm to set out the investigation process. The investigator will then start their initial investigation usually through document requests and interviews with staff. Once all the preliminary evidence is collected the FCA will look into what options are available for enforcement or if the case has no merit. There is opportunity at any time in these proceedings for the FCA to drop the investigation if they believe it necessary, or for the firm or individual to resolve the issues.
If the FCA then decides that enforcement proceedings are justified they will submit the case to the RDC. The RDC will then take over the enforcement process and begin with a warning notice to the firm, this will then be taken to the Tribunal for oral and written submission. If the Tribunal decides against the firm the final decision notice will be sent to the firm before the decision of the Tribunal is published.