Big City firms say FSA should stop policing financial crime

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The Independent Online

Two of Britain’s top retail finance groups have told the Financial Services Authority, led by Hector Sants, that it should have no future role in dealing with financial crime. The views reflect a deep dissatisfaction among City companies with the regulator’s handling of money-laundering and fraud issues.

The views emerge in an FSA-commissioned survey of its anti-crime measures. The firms that said the crime role should end are not identified but are two of Britain’s biggest banks and life companies. Although smaller firms are more sympathetic, large financial groups – both retail and wholesale – are highly critical, with most against any increase in rules to prevent or identify fraud.

The report to the FSA from survey group NOP, which questioned 646 firms including five of the largest banks and insurance companies, states: “About half the respondents rejected the idea of more detailed rules, with large retail firms particularly opposed to it.”

The FSA’s director of financial crime and intelligence, Philip Robinson, admitted: “Large firms con-tinue to be the most critical of our performance. Views of the effectiveness of the new money-laundering regime remain mixed. Firms are against the introduction of more detailed rules.”

He added, however: “The vast majority of respondents continue to be of the view that we should keep a role on financial crime in the future, in particular to seek intelligence and provide clarity on best practice.”