Watchdog defends FCA in whistleblower claim

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Watchdog defends FCA in whistleblower claim
Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority's watchdog has defended the regulator against claims it used "heavy handed" pressure tactics against a whistleblower. 

In a decision published yesterday (August 18) the Complaints Commissioner sided with the FCA amid accusations from a whistleblower that its senior staff had "colluded" with a firm that had found itself at the centre of the whistleblower's claims. 

The whistleblower claimed medical teams "working on behalf of the regulator" had also forced them to "reveal highly personal information" which had allegedly then been disclosed more widely. 

The whistleblower told the commissioner they were "baffled as to why there has been so much focus on my personal information, rather than on the persons committing crimes."

But complaints commissioner Antony Townsend defended the FCA against the claims, finding the regulator had not been involved in "heavy handed or pressure tactics" in the ongoing whistleblowing case and did not have a flawed policy for dealing with such cases.

Mr Townsend said: "There is nothing in the files I have reviewed that suggests the FCA has a policy of treating whistleblowers unethically."

He added: "I am satisfied that there is no evidence that the FCA was involved in your health or medical referrals or any breaches of your confidential information."

As the case is ongoing no further details were disclosed.

Last year the FCA confirmed it would be reviewing its whistleblowing guidance following a recommendation from its watchdog, with particular attention to its standard definition of a whistleblower. 

The pledge came in response to a complaint from an oversees financial adviser who attempted to sound alarm bells regarding a company which was later declared in default by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. 

Recent years have seen the FCA increase the resources it allocates to managing and handling whistleblowing, hailing whistleblowers has providing "some of the best intelligence we get as an organisation".

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