With more intrusive regulation, authorised firms are becoming more proactive in monitoring their own compliance and self-reporting where appropriate. Frequently, there are reasons why the in-house compliance function is not able to conduct an internal investigation by itself or without external help. With the additional benefit of legal privilege attaching to the work we do, clients instruct us to conduct or assist with internal investigations into potential regulatory breaches.
There are many practical problems in the way compliance functions conduct internal investigations into suspected wrongdoing. The burden of an internal investigation is often too much for a compliance function whose capacity is already stretched by the pace of regulatory change and the increased need for routine daily monitoring and reporting.
In-house compliance personnel may be unfamiliar with the forensic techniques needed to conduct enquiries and may also find it difficult to navigate the office politics and potential conflicts of interest that can arise. An objective, but not hostile, investigation is frequently needed as a reassurance that the firm is complying with its regulatory obligations, and this is where we can help. Our work can include interviews with staff and analysis of documentation and other evidence.
At the conclusion of the investigation we can advise as to remedial action and discuss whether self-reporting to the regulator is necessary or advisable. We can also advise, in conjunction with colleagues from our employment team, on any disciplinary action needed against relevant individuals.
Clients include all types of financial services business, and we are particularly experienced in handling the cultural sensitivities that arise where the head office of the organisation in question is based overseas.
Financial services businesses are the focus of attention from various regulators, and not just those regulators (such as the FCA) which are dedicated to financial regulation. For example, financial institutions have in recent years been subject to investigations into cartels and price fixing both in the UK and abroad.
We have experience of defending both individuals and businesses which are the subject of – or at risk of becoming involved in – investigations by regulators. Starting with the FSA's Split Capital Trust enquiry in 2003, our lawyers have been involved in all manner of individual and group-wide inquiries affecting the financial services sector.
Our expertise is spread amongst lawyers who deal exclusively with financial businesses and markets, and those whose experience covers the wider competition, cartel and price-fixing landscape.
These investigations often have an international dimension, and we are able to help with the cross-border aspects of this and co-ordinate multi-jurisdictional aspects. Our experience in this wider type of inquiry includes: advising a brokerage house on a complaint for anti-competitive conduct, straddling the CMA, the FCA and the EU Commission; and advising a bank on the LIBOR and TIBOR investigation by the EU Commission. On this last matter we conducted extensive interviews in several jurisdictions, reviewed many terabytes of data, responded to RFIs from the EU Commission, and conducted an internal audit.