FCA slammed by complaints watchdog over handling of whistleblower

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The Complaints Commissioner has slated the FCA over its handling of a whistleblower’s report citing admin errors, poor communication between departments and “insufficient rigour”.

The FCA must pay the complainant £300 compensation as well as carrying out a proper assessment of the information and evidence the whistleblower has, if they agree to it.

The complainant wrote to the FCA in June 2015 alleging that the conduct of two firms, C and P, was exposing consumers to potential losses and that untrained and unauthorised call centre staff were giving advice to consumers about investments.

The whistleblower told the FCA they had additional evidence they were willing to share with the regulator on request.

However, in July 2015, the FCA said it was not taking further action on the information provided and it did not ask for further evidence.

The whistleblower complained to the FCA, which dismissed the complaint. The matter was then being passed back and forth between the FCA and the Complaints Commissioner until today’s decision.

In its report, the commissioner says: “I accept that the course of action taken by the FCA in relation to your whistleblowing report was not sufficient, this appears to have been the consequence of administrative errors, insufficient communication between departments, and insufficient rigour.”

The commissioner did not uphold the second element of the complaint which alleged the FCA did not act in the public interest and decided to cover up wrongdoing out of loyalty to the financial services industry.

In response, the FCA says: “The FCA acknowledges that the commissioner has upheld one element of this complaint and accepts his recommendations. The FCA will carry out an assessment of the information the complainant wishes to provide, will apologise and make an ex gratia payment of £300 to the complainant.”

It adds: “The FCA notes that the commissioner did not uphold the other element of this complaint, stating that, in respect of that element, he had not seen any evidence to suggest that the FCA had acted inappropriately.”

The commissioner says the FCA has improved its whistleblowing process and is considering additional staff training in this area.