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More whistleblowers in UK financial services

14/01/14

The intense media scrutiny being placed on financial services firms across the UK following a handful of scandals in 2013 has been mirrored by an increase in the number of whistleblowers in the industry, a freedom of information request from Kroll has revealed.

According to the company's research, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) opened 72 per cent more cases based on intelligence from whistleblowers than its predecessor - the Financial Services Authority - did in the preceding 12 months.

Naturally it is difficult to gauge exactly what lies behind these statistics - for instance, whether more whistleblowers are stepping forward or if the FCA is simply taking the reports it receives more seriously because of its broadened remit.

However, it is clear that 5,150 people contacted the FCA's whistleblower hotline over the course of the year, a major jump from the 3,813 who did so in the previous time-frame.

The organisation launched 254 new cases based on data from internal informants between November 2012 and October 2013, compared to just 148 in the same period 12 months ago, reports the Financial Times.

Whistleblowers from the UK also accounted for the highest proportion of overseas-based reports to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Kroll revealed.

The Home Office is considering introducing a rewards system similar to that in place in the US that encourages employees to highlight immoral or risky activity in their business, having asked the FCA to carry out research into how effective this approach actually is.

According to Kroll, the possibility of financial reward is one factor in motivating whistleblowers, although qualms of conscience and fear of being involved in a media-covered scandal are also major factors.

Separate research from the FCA recently suggested that the Libor-rigging scandal helped to fuel a steep increase in the reports of suspected market manipulation.

A 43 per cent jump in potential cases was recorded by the regulatory body in the 12 months to August 31st.

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