Firms 'May Commit Financial Crime'

Financial Crime

29.01.2008

The current stock market turmoil may encourage more firms to commit financial crime, the City watchdog has warned.

The Financial Services Authority said tighter economic conditions may lead to a rise in market abuse and fraud as companies and employees come under increasing pressure.

Its report on the financial risk outlook for the year suggests businesses may divert resources away from tackling financial offences and ensuring procedures are working properly.

FSA chairman Sir Callum McCarthy said the report is not a "firm prediction" of risk, but "a prudent attempt to highlight the risks that could impact consumers and firms in a less benign economy".

The document adds that there is "a risk that firms may dismiss the events of the second half of last year as unpredictable", rather than reviewing their business models to ensure they are up to scratch.

It also highlights concerns over investment bank compliance functions - an area brought into the spotlight following the £3.7bn fraud at French institution Societe Generale.

Financial crime expert at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, Sarah Wallace, added "The FSA have made it clear that they have a desire to investigate and prosecute the criminal offences of insider dealing and market manipulation. Those under FSA criminal investigation and prosecution, if convicted will be at risk of custodial sentences and confiscation of assets. Firms and individuals with insufficient systems and controls to guard against financial crime may be at regulatory investigation and sanction such as fines, public censure or at worst prohibition from undertaking regulated activities."