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Should the FCA be handed power to tap phones?

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley has suggested the regulator should be given powers to use surveillance and wire tapping in its investigations.

In a Treasury select committee hearing this morning, Wheatley was asked by Labour MP John Mann if there were any powers the regulator wanted that Parliament has not yet given it.

Wheatley said: “There are certain areas which are not part of the UK regime that are part of the US regime, so the use of wire tapping and covert intelligence to obtain evidence.

“Now that is a big question but that is something we don’t have as part of the UK structure. If we had that then we would have probably a slightly different approach to insider training as the [Securities and Exchange Commission] does in the US.”



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There are 46 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Starting to think that Martin Wheatley has been watching too much of The Wire and fancies himself as the financial services version of JImmy McNulty.

  2. So are politicians actually suggesting that they give an unelected and unaccountable body even more powers? The next suggested change might be a return of capital punishment for IFAs with, of course, no option to appeal.

  3. Derek Bradley ceo Panacea Adviser 9th September 2014 at 12:41 pm


    And where would this all end? Surely this is available now with police involvement in a criminal investigation?

  4. Yeh, go on, why not!

    And change the name above the door to President, Prime Minister, God, or something more appropriate to Mr W’s exalted status.

    On the other hand, if we could be sure it was only used to catch the buffoons and bandits that continue to cost the rest of us a lot of money, — well???

  5. And Mr Wheatley went on to add that a guillotine would also be useful for some errant advisers.

  6. Mr Wheatley also added that he would like to use the guillotine also for some errant advisers.

  7. Absolutely NOT

    This is a democratic nation not a centrally controlled monolithic monocracy embracing despotic authority

    How can Wheatley think in such terms

  8. My first reaction was, OMG it’s getting like we are living in the USSR.

    Having given this some thought I would be in agreement, providing there are clear and accountable rules to when and how these powers can be used. We have nothing to hide, but we all know there are some major problems with current text and mobile sales methods. They are non compliant and dangerous. If this saved money in the long run by catching and closing down these companies then I would agree it makes sense, as these firms are very clever and do not put there lies in writing.

    As already stated, my fear is that the power would be used incorrectly and without unaccountably should not be allowed.

  9. History is littered with empiric organisations that encroach into other areas and demand powers to catch the wrongdoers.

    The general theme is that these powers are then abused and twisted into some sinister tool which allows them to pursue other goals.

    The answer must be no.

  10. An unelected and not very trustworthy organization.

    What next? Dawn raids and executions?

    If the FCA cannot fulfill it’s role without resorting to this type of Draconian over-kill I think it is time that they disbanded and handed over to an operator who is smart enough to weed out the wrongdoers with out wanting to turn in to the KBG.

  11. correlationstreet 9th September 2014 at 2:30 pm

    On the basis that anybody with a deep need for obtaining information covertly is already tapping your phone/e-mail etc – don’t be surprised to discover that this is a retrospective idea!

  12. Only the Police or MI5 should have such powers. Perhaps the FCA is above the Law and the Secret Service… delusions of grandeur I think its called.
    Better ring News of the World, I trust them more than Mr W or the FCA.

  13. Quite happy for him to tap my phone – Provided I can tap his so we know what other ideas an overinflated monolithic unaccountable empire building organisation is coming up with. Frankly I would rather keep paying my FSCS fee than see this happen.

  14. The next step will be that all regulated bodies will be required to install CCTV’s (with microphones) in their offices, linked to the offices of the FCA so they can monitor our every word and move.

    On a more serious note, I concur with Derek Bradley.

  15. If we are allowed to record every word Mr Wheatley and his cronies speak first, From personal experience, the only way to keep the regulator itself in check is to have a recording of every word spoken to and from them.
    This is the head of the organisation who before changing its name, refused to release the legal opinion as to whether the FCAs removal of the longstop was legal or not.
    There is a lot of hearsay and conjecture about off the record comments from senior legal professionals saying that the legal advice was on the back of a fag packet and wouldn’t stand any scrutiny if it ever gets to court.
    If Mr Whetley wants wire tapping then he needs to prove that we should trust him and his out of control organisation as at the moment I would trust him about as far as Churchill trusted Hitler. I am no appeasing Chamberlain.
    As to Wheatley saying: “There are certain areas which are not part of the UK regime that are part of the US regime”, he should also remember that the US uses water boarding (torture) and extraordinary rendition to states which commit other forms of torture.
    Could it be that Martin Wheatley has forgotten he is no longer in Hong Kong (China)?
    Over my dead body.

  16. E L Wisty (an only twin) 9th September 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Happy for La Wheatley to tap my phone, providing he sticks a microphone in his pants so that I can also hear what he has to say.

    Seriously, are the apparatchiks in Canary Wharf now totally out of touch with reality and the democratic/judicial process?


    FCA(FSA) chief executive Martin Wheatley has suggested the regulator should be given powers to use surveillance and wire tap -. Vladimir Putin’s Russia beckons! Is this safe? The FCA/FSA is not accountable to Treasury Ministers or to Parliament, as confirmed by Hector Sants at a Treasury Select Committee meeting on 9 March 2011.

    The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 in general prohibits interception of communications by a third party, with exceptions related to government agencies and yet on the other hand the FCA/FSA claims to be independent of government! Telephone tapping is strictly regulated in all developed societies to safeguard the privacy of telephone users.

    In the UK telephone tapping often must be authorised by a court, and is normally only approved when evidence shows it is not possible to detect criminal activity in less intrusive way.

  18. The slippery slope.

    The answer is found in 46 years of failed Financial Services Regulation and is absolutely ‘NO’.

    From Barlow Clouds to a failed £ + regulatory industry, who take their order from the E.U. Least we forget paid for others. The destruction of Savings and Investment, can also be attributed to the people, that know best.

    Next the demand that all IFA’s will be ‘Water-boarded’ at least once a month, or have a Licence to trade removed because he/she failed the Blue Eyes and Blonde Hair Test, did not make Eton or have a loving Jewish Mother.

    Democracy, fails when such people gain power. This guy is likely a Euro apologist, happy to shackle the
    UK, to the in European Socialist Dream, who demand that all states Obey-Obey-Obey. Which the U/K does, but goes further with ‘Gold Plating’.

    When will the Financial Services Regulator’s declare, a dress code, what type of milk can be used in offices and the size of spoon.

    Just another jobs-worthy trying to prove himself, when he should be facing the ‘Gillette’. (in real terms gets promoted)

    The photo of him with his hands on his hips suggests many things about his character, but mainly a petulant child who has been order to the naughty seat.

  19. If they get covert surveillance powers and a licence to kill, I’m applying for a job!

  20. It would follow for any dictatorship to have wire taps and covert action so why are we surprised?

  21. get real FCA leave James Bond to do the spying and get your own house in order, reduce your cost’s reduce your waste and time delays for approvals, stop passing the bill onto small firms for the gross misconduct of banks and so called investment firms. while the Government print their way out of shortfalls you push your hands deeper into the pockets of advisor’s. why not attach a web cam to every one so you can spy properly, get to see what they do on holidays and what they buy in shops. (1984 big brother isn’t just watching)

  22. Surely if this helps to wean out the bad apples in our industry and bring them to account this is a good idea?

    I can understand the negative comments to a certain extend but I can see no reason why this would have any impact on the way you run your business or the service provided to your clients as I am sure you all act in an appropriate manner

    I for one feel that if this process were to lead to a more proactive response to those with less morals than the majority in the industry then I would back it.

    I have nothing to fear or hide and I am sure none of you that have posted have either – and I am also sure that you would not be the intended target for such surveillance

  23. With the greatest respect to our dear leader – until you have shown you can adequately regulate the mortgage market it would be my preference you keep well away from those phones.

    At present the telephone system works, it would be a shame to let you ruin/regulate it.

  24. Mr P.J.Botham, is truly a very special person, for on God’s earth, few have made such claims or had them certified.

    However, because you are Human, I believe you, but millions will not.

    How far then does your white light cover protect you and from what.

    If its that good, many senior church people, including the Pope and many involved in Government, Financial Services Regulation and of course not forgetting Rotherham Council, would pay a fortune for it.

    Or, are you simply mis-guided, for too claim concerned because you have very done wrong, places you statistically at Infinity. Can I please be protected by you.

  25. surely if it helps?……………………… would it also help to tape every phone call you make in your office mobile phone and home and send it monthly as part of your returns to the unelected body who is a law onto itself and unaccountable. they can increase your costs to pay for it, bye the way what about the face to face meetings when there is no audit or record of the conversation maybe a web cam. how long do you think it would take those intent on law braking to cover their tracks, does the FCA believe that breaches in regulation and law only take place over the phone or by email. What image would this present to the public ” we trust your advisor so much that we may wish to tape their phone and intercept emails best wishes FCA”

  26. Many advisers do record both telephone conversations and face to face meetings – I know Phillip Castle is a big advocate of this and finds it very beneficial – the example you give relating to sending recordings in as part of your return, although I am sure it is made to highlight your point, is laughable.

    As I mentioned previously my thoughts (for what they are worth) on this are that it is not a ploy to try and catch all advisers out – it is aimed at the serious and more organised cases in which there is a clear reason to suspect irregularities so why not use the technology available to bring those people to justice?

    If advisers are doing nothing to attract this type of attention then I don’t believe they will have any reason to be effected by it – if on the other hand the powers bring about justice then I am all for it.

  27. If you are pure and blameless you have nothing to worry about …………hum , that would be all right then.
    What happened to human rights ?

  28. I note that you didn’t respond to public trust and confidence, why should it only be financial services that would be subject to such measures? after all if other professions aren’t doing anything wrong what do they have to worry about, why do we need laws in the first place if everyone is acting properly, I believe that there is far to much convert activity already, the UK has more CC TV cameras than any other country in the world per head of population, civil liberties privacy issues data protection confidential conversations that may arise during conversations that fall outside the FCA remit. I think the FCA are attempting to cover up the libor issue and other major banking sin’s, ” if we only had these powers +++++++ these and these etc etc we would be able to get it right, don’t blame us it anit are fault.

  29. @ P – J Botham – Correct I do record client meetings as well as all phone calls. I also record FCA telecons and meetings and my email footer and notice in our meeting room is there to warn regulators as I always ask clients if they are happy for me to record and explain why.
    I don’t agree with the FCA being given the right to make covert recordings or intercepts as from the experience of misuse of terrorist legislation to extradite Mr Tobin and the NatWest 3 to America are cases of parliament being told legislation would be sued for one thing and then being abused by the executive.
    any telephone intercepts MUST continue to be authorised by someone separate from the executive, i.e. a Judge.
    The executive being given powers (the FCA without any recourse to the courts) is a slippery slope and is what my grandfather served in the TA pre WW2 to stop and what I did myself for 16 years too.
    as I say, over my dead body should the FCA be given any more powers without the involvement of legal due process, that is why I record the FCA as it’s staff believe it and themselves to be untouchable and that they can say whatever they like and then write things up in a way to present themselves in the best light.

  30. @Paul Woolley – your human rights would not be effected as I am sure you wouldn’t be exposed to the type of activity that would give rise to suspicion.

    Many of the views expressed within MM are aimed at ensuring those that do wrong are suitably punished, exposed and removed from the industry – if it transpires that an individual and/or firm is acting inappropriately and this is established with the aide of ‘bugging’ then that to me would be welcome.

    I would much prefer to see the interests of our clients and industry protected and the rights of those who have put trust in the service we provide to have their futures and finances exposed to as little risk as possible and if that means catching the wrong-doers by listening to their phone calls then so be it…

  31. There are legal powers today restricting random phone tapping, but do I have to remind anyone of the numerous instances of illegal activity.

    If there is a legal need then, surely, there is sufficient evidence of malpractice already to hand to obtain formal authority under existing legislation.

  32. @P-J Botham, we live in a free society not a state like the old USSR, north Korea or even china where people don’t always get to hear the truth and enjoy freedom , where there is to much political interfering. taping won’t stop market abuse or law braking, anyway what did the FSA do with all the information they had on failing banks and companies mis-selling and market abuse ? hid it and ignored it for the sake of market stability. those of us left standing get to pay the price for regulatory grand standing

  33. If they do get this ten they can change their name as well. I guess SS or KGB would fit well.

  34. P J Botham, I cannot believe you actually trust these people to do the right thing, breath-taking !!!

  35. Paul Woolley – we live in a society where very few people trust anyone to get anything right…we don’t trust teachers to teach our children, we don’t trust carers to look after the elderly, we don’t trust the police to police our streets and we certainly don’t trust politicians to run our country….and I for one trust very few people to look after my finances (or that of those close to me)….if by giving someone, be it the FCA or whoever, the power to bring a scum bag to justice then all is good with the world

  36. And you think they will use these powers in a correct way ???? Can you smell that coffee ??

  37. Are we being a bit over the top here – Doesn’t this relate to insider trading – where billions of pounds are lost each year?

    Why would this affect advisors?

  38. Thank you Matthew – I think you may have said a little bit clearer than me, but your view seems to be along the lines of mine in that no one who has commented and vented their frustration will actually be personally effected by this potential development!

  39. @PJ Botham

    The Nazis said much the same. That’s how it starts.

  40. Unitl the FCA/FSCS/FOS is funded by Government the obvious answer is no.

  41. PJ. affected, not effected, I think you will find. The problem is that we are all affected by this and it just shows that the FCA are not living in the same world as we are, this is very dangerous.

  42. Paul – How exactly are we affected by this?

    MW references insider trading, not small advice firms.

  43. @ Matthew You ask “how exactly are we affected by this”. Basically it is the same slippery slope that happened with Nazi Germany. Just because they haven’t decided to use an immoral and otherwise illegal process against you yet, doesn’t make it acceptable.
    Just because the American’s say that waterboarding isn’t torture and in any case, they only use it on terrorists, doesn’t make it any less torture. Just because the torture is done AFTER extraordinary rendition to another state which flouts International Law, rather than one that says it abides by it doesn’t stop it from being a war crime.
    Just because they Uk Govt promised to only allow the UK Terrorist legislation to ONLY be used to extradite terrorists to the USA doesn’t mean it hasn’t been abused on several occasions (NatWest 3 for example and the man with Asperger’s who hacked the CIA I think it was looking for UFO evidence)

    I trust Parliament more than I do the F-pack and parliament itself has proven wanting on these (highlighted above) and many other civil liberty issues so no way should this be handed over to an unelected quango run by the ex head of the Hong Kong Financial Services scheme )Mr Wheatley)

  44. Paul Wooley – thank you for the spelling correction, a school boy error on my part…

    Matthew – my last comment states that I do NOT believe that anyone of those / us that have commented will be affected, due to both the high level of the risk and the quality of the advice the commentators are undoubtedly giving

  45. apologies Matthew, I have just re-read your last comment and can see that you did not aim the question regarding how we will be affected at me…please ignore that comment

  46. PJ you are unable to get my name correct now. Priceless.

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