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Firms loses complaint over fine for late regulatory return

A firm has had its complaint rejected after being billed by the FCA for a late regulatory return.

The firm, which is kepy anonymous in its complaint, went to the Complaints Commissioner after being invoiced £250 by the FCA for a late submission of part of its return, despite claiming that it had made all of its submissions on time.

The says that it submitted the returns on their 16 January due date, and received confirmation from the FCA’s system, only to be invoiced on 5 February for a late filing.

The firm says a system fault must have meant some parts of the return were not received, and used a letter from its accountant, who had been there at the time, to support its claim to the Complaints Commissioner.

The FCA had dismissed the firm’s complaint, saying that an audit showed no system irregularities on the daty of filing and confirmed only 5 of the 11 due returns were validated and submitted.

Reviewing the logs, the Complaints Commissioner says: “The FCA audit trail is clear as to what happened on the day, and I have no reason to doubt it.”

“It is clear that your firm completed the returns on 16 January, and I have no doubt that you intended to submit all the returns, but unfortunately the record is clear that a number of them were not”.

However, the Complaints Commissioner does also highlight weaknesses in the Gabriel system which may have caused confusion.

The decision reads: “Validated items are highlighted in green, and it is possible that a user might interpret this as successful submission, although there is a message underneath explaining that the record must be submitted. It is also the case that there does not appear to be a simple way to view the status of all returns on one page.”

“The FCA has informed me that improvements to the Gabriel system are
due to go live this month which will address the issue of colour so that
submitted returns will show as amber rather than green.”

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