James Moore: FCA's first victim of the year should have known better


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Outlook Congratulations to Execution Noble, which is enduring a distinctly unhappy start to 2015 as the first recipient of a fine from the Financial Conduct Authority.

Given the problems its current owner, Portugal’s failed Banco Espírito Santo, is grappling with, a £231,000 fine represents a little more than a mosquito bite, and it will be under new ownership soon enough. But the case still reflects badly on the firm.

The penalty was imposed because Execution Noble, which had acted as a sponsor to companies with premium listings on the London Stock Exchange, failed to tell the FCA that two-thirds of its sponsor team had walked out. Instead it simply carried on hawking its services around the City.

Now, if you’re a sponsor part of your job is to advise listed companies on their regulatory obligations. So you really ought to be on top of your own obligations.

Commentators from the legal community noted that the fine rather demonstrated the watchdog’s increasing willingness to poke its regulatory nose into new areas (it gained the power to impose financial penalties on sponsors in 2013). A cursory read of the FCA’s decision notice demonstrates just how necessary that has become.