The FCA has launched a campaign to encourage and reassure whistleblowers, with the strapline “In confidence, with confidence.” Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA has said:
We want all whistleblowers to feel welcomed by us and to feel safe because of us. We listen to all whistleblowers and, if they shine a light on serious misconduct, we want to make sure we act responsibly. When whistleblowing works well it helps consumers, markets and firms and keeps everyone safe and that is our aim.”
The FCA states that it has been investing in its whistleblowing process, “including increasing the headcount on its whistleblowing team” as part of the FCA’s wider ongoing emphasis on culture and governance at regulated firms.
The FCA’s newly published web pages (here, and here) develop the FCA’s commentary upon its whistleblowing process. These pages emphasise the following points to potential whistleblowers:
- the FCA understands whistleblowers’ concerns and values whistleblowers’ input
- employees and ex-employees can tell the FCA about their concerns in confidence
- whistleblowing reports can be made anonymously; and, if the whistleblower chooses to disclose his or her identity, the FCA will keep it confidential
- whistleblowing reports are recorded and stored securely.
The law on whistleblowing
Whistleblowers are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (“PIDA”). PIDA provides for remedies to whistleblowers if they are hurt, suffer detriment or are dismissed because they have blown the whistle in the public interest. These remedies are enforceable at the Employment Tribunal.
The FCA is a “prescribed person” under PIDA, which means that if a whistleblower makes a qualifying report to the FCA, that whistleblower is eligible for the same employment rights as if they had made the report to their employer.
Disclosures only count as whistleblowing if they are in the “public interest.” In the financial services context, relevant disclosures might therefore include:
- money laundering
- fitness and propriety
- systems and controls
- unauthorised business.
The case studies provided on the FCA’s whistleblowing webpages illustrate that the FCA regards these reports as sources of information that inform its approach to supervision, enabling the FCA to open conversations with regulated firms. These case studies do not contain anything that most firms would regard as threatening.
How we can help
Fox Williams LLP acts for individuals who many wish to make a whistleblowing complaint, either to their employer or to the FCA, and for firms who may wish to review their whistleblowing policies or conduct an internal investigation into allegations raised by a whistleblower.
Please get in touch with your usual Fox Williams contact for more information, who will be pleased to assist.