FCA in hot water as mini-bond probe delayed again

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FCA in hot water as mini-bond probe delayed again

The Financial Conduct Authority has apologised for delays in providing documents to the independent investigation into its handling of the London Capital and Finance scandal. 

It comes as the investigation has once again been delayed by up to two months, with Dame Elizabeth Gloster now expected to deliver her final report before November 23. 

In an update today (August 25) Dame Elizabeth said the latest delay followed the regulator disclosing a further 3,500 documents related to the case in mid-July, which she warned should have been flagged to her team earlier. 

According to Dame Elizabeth the FCA had taken seven weeks to produce the additional documents and errors in the regulator's disclosure of information had been a "theme" throughout the course of the investigation. 

Interviews with senior staff at the FCA had also apparently only been made possible from mid-June and had taken "much longer than anticipated" whilst requiring "substantial additional work". 

Dame Elizabeth said: "I am very conscious that many individuals who invested in LCF have been impacted both personally and financially by LCF’s insolvency and will understandably be disappointed by the further delay in the delivery of my report. 

"However, as I have said previously, I consider it vital for all concerned that my report is thorough and robust, and takes into account all the relevant issues.

"I have asked the FCA to take any necessary steps to ensure my investigation is completed as soon as possible so that I can share my report with them for submission to HM Treasury by the revised date."

It is not the first time the City watchdog has been criticised for its conduct during the investigation, with Dame Elizabeth warning in January the FCA had not "appreciated the scale of the task from the outset". 

In June the investigation was delayed further when the coronavirus pandemic pushed back the timetable for interviews with FCA employees.

In response to Dame Elizabeth's latest criticisms, chairman of the FCA Charles Randell apologised and pointed to technology and the coronavirus crisis as contributors to the delays. 

Mr Randell said: "Whilst we have responded to more than 75 information requests from your team so far, and have also provided some 45,000 documents across the period of the investigation, we too are frustrated by the limitations of our legacy technology systems in retrieving information.

"This is being addressed through a multi-year and multi-million-pound investment programme.

"We will continue to conduct assurance work to ensure that any gaps in information are identified and remedied."

The independent investigation will consider the FCA’s actions, policies and approach when regulating LCF. 

For example, it will focus on whether the regulator adequately supervised LCF’s compliance with its rules and policies and if it established appropriate policies for responding to information provided by third parties regarding the conduct of LCF.

It will also look into whether the FCA received information of significance concerning the conduct of LCF and if it responded appropriately.

London Capital & Finance entered into administration in January 2019 owing more than £230m and putting the funds of some 14,000 bondholders at risk.


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