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FSA discount for early fine settlors

The FSA will give discounts to firms who settle their fines early following a review of the regulator’s enforcement procedures.

Discounts will come in three stages – 30 per cent, 20 per cent and 10 per cent – and will only apply to cases where investigators are appointed on or after October 20.

The initiative is part of many changes designed to make its enforcement process more transparent and consistent. The changes are based on the recommendations of the FSA’s enforcement process review, published this summer, which also required changes to the FSA’s handbook.

The FSA’s enforcement division will work separately from the independent regulatory decisions committee, addressing concerns of bias and inconsistency in decision making. Regular discussions will take place between the two groups which will be made available to the firm under investigation.

Changes have also been made within the enforcement division to reflect some of the key recommendations. The practice of sending out preliminary investigation reports before cases are taken to the RDC has been standardised. Legal reviews are now carried out on all cases before the RDC stage by lawyers who have not been part of the investigation team.

The FSA says it is on course to complete the reforms by the year end.

But FSA director of enforcement Margaret Cole says: “This is a process of continuous improvement – we recognise that the industry does not stand still and that we cannot afford to either.”

Aifa director general Chris Cummings says: “We are pleased with the increased separation between enforcement and the RDC but are concerned the discounts will cause the FSA to impose higher fines.”

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