The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority has told the Treasury select committee that its investigation into the failure of the LF Woodford Equity Income fund is unlikely to be published before the end of the year.
In a letter published today (May 28), Nikhil Rathi said the body had completed its key interviews of 14 witnesses, and the information gathering stage of the investigation was nearly complete.
It said it had issued over 30 information requirements which has led to the gathering of over 20,000 items of relevant material from all the key parties.
The next stages will include analysis of the information collected and engagement with expert witnesses in case of further proceedings.
Rathi said he was confident the investigative work itself would be completed by the end of this year.
In the event there is a case to answer, proposed sanctions would be subject to a evidential and legal review by senior FCA individuals and then put to those involved along with the findings, the regulator said.
It added: "in our experience, it can take around six months from the conclusion of the investigation stage to prepare the relevant papers, subject these to the separate evidential and legal review, and engage with the subjects through the initial resolution process."
If subjects do not agree with the findings or any redress suggested by the FCA, it can take take a further six months to a year for any case to proceed through the watchdog's regulatory decisions committee.
If a case is then brought to the Upper Tribunal, this would add a year or more for the case to be determined.
Rathi wrote: "I am unable to give a precise timeline for any public indication of the outcome.
"However, please be assured that my colleagues and I are appreciative of the importance of the matters under investigation and will seek to expedite those parts of the process that are within our control.
"This investigation is and will continue to be a priority for the FCA."
Mel Stride MP, chairman of the Treasury committee, said: “Almost two years since the FCA launched its investigation into the collapse of the Woodford Fund, we’re yet to see any results, or be told when we can expect an indication of any findings.
“Whilst it is right that all due process must be followed, the longer the investigation goes on, the greater the sense of disappointment that will be felt by those who lost out.
“The committee expects to be updated regularly by the FCA. We will consider the findings of the investigation when they are eventually published.”
In the letter, Rathi added that the FCA continued to monitor Woodford Investment Management, which no longer holds permissions for regulated business, closely and said it “will continue to engage with authorities in overseas jurisdictions about any potential future activities of the firm or its principals.”
It emerged in February that Woodford was launching a new firm, Woodford Capital Management Partners, but for now this does not involve the creation of a new fund, or managing money on behalf of UK advised clients.