The regulator is turning the spotlight on firms that use middlemen in countries known for high levels of corruption as part of its efforts to counter the risk of bribery and corruption.
Addressing the British Bankers’ Association annual financial crime conference in London last week, FSA director of enforcement Margaret Cole said supervisors may look at whether a firm’s geographical reach, customer base, product lines, or sales channels make it vulnerable to the risk that staff pay or receive bribes.
She said: “Firms that use go-betweens to generate new business in jurisdictions associated with systemic levels of corruption may receive particular attention. I would expect firms in this position to be actively implementing measures to mitigate the threat.”
Cole also responded to recent accusations that the FSA has transformed into an “assertive criminal prosecutor”. She insisted the FSA is right to exercise powers as a prosecutor and said the regulator has taken steps to become a heavyweight criminal prosecutor.
Cole said: “The FSA is, of course, a prosecutor with a limited remit, a remit we are very clear about. But there is no reason why this should be seen as a bad thing. There are a number of other specialist prosecutors reflecting the view that it is important to have specialist fraud authorities rather than one jack of all trades.”