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FCA breached Freedom of Information Act over Keydata

The Information Commissioner’s Office has ruled the FCA breached the Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to a FoI request related to its investigation into Keydata.

In a decision published earlier this month, the ICO upheld a complaint against the FCA and ruled it must process the request within 35 days. Failure to do so could result in court action.

The unnamed complainant originally contacted the FSA in December 2012 requesting information relating to its 2007 review of Keydata’s traded life policy investments and the distribution of them by advisers.

The FSA responded last January to say a number of points in the request would be outside of the scope of the FoIA because they asked for explanations of actions and decisions rather than requests for record information.

The FCA provided further guidance on what would constitute an appropriate request.

The complainant sent a revised application for information, which included requests for internal communications between the investigation team and senior management, and internal communications regarding the FSA’s decision not to publish the Keydata review.

The FCA says the request would exceed the cost limit of £450 per request as it would take too long to extract the requested information from documents.

But the ICO says the FCA and the complainant have different interpretations of the scope of the request. It says the FCA could release all relevant documents, rather than extracting information from them, and therefore complete the request in the required time.

It ruled the FCA “failed to give proper consideration to the complainant’s intended reading of the requests”, and therefore must consider the alternative reading and issue an appropriate response.

The FCA has the right to appeal the decision and take it to a tribunal.

A spokeswoman for the FCA says: “We will consider the judgment. No decision has been made on an appeal at this stage.”

The FSA came under fire from the Complaints Commissioner in May 2011 after sending out confidential information related to its Keydata investigation on unencrypted discs. One package was delivered to a neighbour of a Keydata director.

Keydata founder Stewart Ford also lodged a complaint with the FSA alleging the regulator delivered his confidential copy of the Keydata preliminary investigation report to his ex-wife.

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Comments

There are 7 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. So surely this means that the FCA can no longer hide behind a wall of secrecy as whenever I have put in information requests I have been quoted the £450 figure as mentioned in this article.

    Freedom of information act was meant to be away for the general public to hold public bodies to account and it is not appropriate for organisations to hide behind the £450 figure. If the records in communication are there then the FCA has responsibility to hand over this information when requested.

    I hope that the media now starts to hold the FCA to account on other issues particularly in reference to handling big miss-selling scandals like PPI. I should think there is quite a lot of information in respects to senior individuals from the FCA in the communications with banks and building societies. Could this finally show that the regulator was turning a blind eye while these organisations made billions.

    After all surely we should ask the reasons why most of the senior individuals go off to work in senior positions within banks and building societies after they finish their time at the regulator. If the communications of their then the public have a right to see them.

  2. You forget, the FCA are above the law. They can do whatever they like and no one is going to stop them not even the pesky ICO.

  3. Many, many Keydata issues were kept secret, so who knows what information may be unearthed? The FSA clearly knew more than advisors did about the Keydata business and if their findings were that Keydata were lying to advisors and the public with their key facts of the products, why weren’t advisors warned? PIA, FSA, FCA: Whatever they are named, they’ve all been the same and just cover up their tracks. At least this FoI may prove the point.

  4. The FCA have always been very vague about their 2007 work and now it seems are doing whatever they can to prevent any disclosure about it. I hope the complainant here is successful in his request, even if he has to drag the information out.

  5. Several of the FCA staff involved in the Keydata debacle are now EX FCA and I am sure would happily provide the information for free (from their memories) of what was covered in their 2004 report, but are blocked from doing so by their former employer’s confidentiality agreement. It seems very much to me that the FCA want as little as possible to be asked of them OR of Dr Debbie Harrison who is not only still a member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel but wrote a glowing report on the Keydata plans before their collapse. And I quote the top and tail of the report “Product review by Debbie Harrison,…..The Secure Income Plan offers private investors attractive income and growth prospects via a relatively new asset class – the secondary market in US life assurance products – hitherto only available to institutional investors. About the author Debbie Harrison is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Pensions Institute, Cass Business School, where she is a researcher and the co-author of four landmark pensions reports. Elsewhere she has published a wide range of UK and global retail and institutional finance books and research reports and has been a contributor to the Financial Times on pensions,
    investment, alternatives and expatriate issues for 20 years. In addition Debbie is a consultant to major financial institutions and also runs financial training courses for institutions and government departments, including the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs, and the Office for National Statistics. She is a trustee of the Financial Inclusion Centre, a financial research charity, and she is an adviser to the DWP on pension reform.
    Keydata commissioned Debbie to write this product review. The firm provided technical assistance but she retained editorial control throughout. She is happy to discuss any issues arising from this research and can be contacted at ……………..”
    In my opinion an FSCS case needs to go to court and we need the writer of the FSA report and Dr Harrison to provide evidence as at the moment, facts are being hidden by all parties using various different methods.

  6. E L Wisty (an only twin) 22nd January 2014 at 4:17 pm

    So assuming that the FCA does not win a subsequent appeal, does this mean that we could ask for copies of FCA internal communications relating to their decisions in respect of the CF Arch cru debacle?

    If so, then we might find out:

    1. why no substantive action was taken against Capita – despite clear evidence that it failed in its regulatory obligations.

    2. why the FSA fettered the powers of the Ombudsman, so that no compensation could be awarded above the terms of the Capita Payment Scheme.

    3. How, and why, the FSA concluded that there was no causal link between Capita’s actions and ommissions and the financial losses arising.

    4. How the FSA determined that the funds were “higher risk”, and that IFAs could not rely on documents authorised by the ACD.

    5. How the FSA determined that £54million was a sufficient quantum of compensation for the losses – even though it hadn’t completed its investigation into the affair.

    6. Equally what Capita and the FSA discussed and agreed.

    We need to know.

  7. @ Philip Castle. Dr Harrison has some explaining to do that’s for sure. Has she explained why she gave Keydata those glowing reports?

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