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FCA’s criminal investigations increase sevenfold in three years

The number of criminal investigations opened by the FCA has risen nearly sevenfold in three years.

Data from the regulator also shows the number of regulatory investigations has doubled over the same period.

In 2015/16 the FCA opened 21 criminal investigations, the following year that was 118, and in 2017/18 it began 140 criminal investigations.

In response to a freedom of information request the regulator states between 2015 and 2018 a total of 39 criminal investigations resulted in enforcement action. The proportion of cases resulting in enforcement action dropped from 29 per cent in 2015/16 to 19 per cent in 2017/18.

Criminal investigations opened by FCA Criminal investigations closed without enforcement action by FCA Criminal investigations that resulted in FCA enforcement action
2015/16 21 5 6
2016/17 118 35 7
2017/18 140 73 26

The FCA also disclosed equivalent figures for regulatory investigations. These have gone from 88 being opened in 2015/16 to 162 being opened in 2017/18. Again, the number resulting in enforcement action has dropped, in this case from 77 per cent to 43 per cent for the most recent figures.

As of September this year there were 167 active criminal investigations, the watchdog says.

Regulatory investigations opened by FCA Regulatory investigations closed without enforcement action by FCA Regulatory investigations that resulted in FCA enforcement action
2015/16 88 19 68
2016/17 164 36 37
2017/18 162 39 70

In its Enforcement Annual Performance report from 2017/18, the FCA details how much it spent on criminal investigations, it notes these can be “significantly higher” than the costs for regulatory investigations.

In 2015 they set the regulator back £227,400, and in 2016/17 £886,000. In 2017/18 the bill reached £1.6m.

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  1. Given that basic data, on its own, isn’t hugely enlightening, it would be interesting to know the subjects of these investigations. And how many are based on tip-offs, on which the FCA has frequently been accused of failing to act?

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