FCA issued £568m in fines in 2021

The FCA issued fines totalling £568 million in 2021 amid a surge in financial crime and non-compliance during the pandemic.

In a review of its activities in 2021, the regulator said that it had “continued to act to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system” with a series of decisions including a £264 million fine issued to NatWest, which was the regulator’s first criminal prosecution under anti-money laundering legislation.

The £568 million total also included £147 million fine levied against Credit Suisse and £63.9 million for HSBC.

A record 1,300 warnings about scams were issued over the past year.

The regulator has also taken action against individuals for insider dealing, non-financial misconduct and carrying out regulated activities without authorisation and has varied a firm or individuals’ regulatory permission over 100 times in 2021.

In addition, the FCA took away approval to undertake financial services from 176 firms, which have not carried on regulatory activity in the last 12 months.

The regulator said its ‘use it or lose it’ approach is designed to protect consumers who may be misled about the level of protection they have when buying products from firms that do not need to be authorised by the FCA.

The FCA is also applying standards more robustly when authorising firms. In the year to 2 December 2021, 1 in 5 firms (up from 1 in 6 when the FCA last reported) which applied for authorisation were refused, rejected or withdrew their application after discussions with the financial watchdog.

The FCA’s contact centre has this year prevented £4m being lost to scams, it said, while it has also has secured £5m to be paid back to people who invested in companies that were not authorised to undertake financial activity.

A further £28.5m has been frozen due to FCA action to be paid back to investors, subject to the outcome of legal action.

Nikhil Rathi, chief executive of the FCA, said: “The FCA has protected customers, enhanced the integrity of the UK’s financial system and promoted competition this year, despite the additional challenges of the pandemic.

“We have reformed the general insurance market, saving consumers £4.2bn over 10 years, led the transition from LIBOR and helped small businesses claim £1.2bn against business interruption insurance cover. We are looking forward to using our innovative, adaptive and assertive approach to achieve even more for consumers and the financial market next year.”

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