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Financial watchdog bites back

The City regulator gets tough with rogue banks

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The City watchdog imposed record fines on errant banks and other financial providers in 2009, and wants to up the minimum amount it can penalise firms in 2010.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) handed out fines totalling £35m last year, with the bulk coming from 41 individual companies for a range of offences, including failing to treat customers fairly, fraud and breaking trading regulations. The largest fine of the year, £8m, was levied on UBS, the Swiss banking group. 

Higher financial fines

The value of fines imposed in 2009 rose 65% on the previous year. Margaret Cole, FSA director of enforcement, said: ‘Our biggest fines, record numbers of bans and successful criminal prosecutions this year reflect our tougher, more intensive enforcement approach. These outcomes have made people sit up and take notice and we expect to see a change in behaviour in the industry. We plan to keep this momentum in 2010 to ensure our enforcement actions continue to support our aim of credible deterrence.’

The regulator is keen to impose harsher fines this year to deter those firms that it believes will not be deterred by the current fines it imposes. In some cases, the FSA plans to treble the value of fines it can levy.  

Responsible banking

For more information on the banking crisis and the issue of responsible banking, see the Which? Britain Needs Better Banks and Future of Banking Commission webpages. 

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