The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has this week published its annual Business Plan. Unsurprisingly, the emergence of COVID-19 has significantly impacted the organisation’s ability to set out its strategic focus for the next three years. While the Plan sets out the areas of priority on which it intends to focus in this period, it recognises that it may be months before the FCA is able to focus fully on the activities set out in the Plan and that the issues to be addressed may change significantly over the coming months.
The last few weeks have seen a sharp rise in the number of reported cases of coronavirus related fraud. As of 20 March the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, Action Fraud, had recorded at least 105 reports with total losses reaching almost £970,000. These figures will undoubtedly continue to grow given the likely timescale of the pandemic and the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a significant impact on all aspects of the financial services industry, including on firms, customers, regulators, capital markets and their participants. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues to engage closely with the sector as it seeks to respond effectively to the current crisis. This has included releasing a number of statements relating to various matters including scams, short selling, operational and financial resilience, and financial reporting.
In September 2019, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) published its list of businesses that have not complied with the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 (MLR 2017) for the tax year 2019 to 2020. Within this, it revealed that it has fined Touma Foreign Exchange Ltd £7.8 million for a wide range of serious failures under the Money Laundering Regulations.
Tucked in between the “reasonable worst-case” scenarios for food, trade and fuel is a stark one liner: “Law enforcement and information sharing between U.K. and EU will be disrupted”. The reduction in capability of law enforcement agencies that will come from a no deal will, according to government documents, be accompanied by an increase in cross-border crime.