FCA endorses NCSC guidance on recent ransomware attack  

On 13 May 2017, the FCA published a statement on the recent national cyber attack. In the statement the FCA advises firms to review guidance on ransomware that has been issued by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and take appropriate action. The guidance has been separated into sections for home users and SMEs, and for enterprise administrators. The FCA has advised firms that have been subject to an attack to contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre and notify their regulator(s) through their usual route.

FCA secures eight confiscation orders  

The FCA has announced that the Central Criminal Court has made confiscation orders against eight defendants, who were convicted of offences following one of the FCA’s largest investigations into unauthorised activity. The investigations followed an unauthorised collective investment scheme which operated through three companies between July 2008 and November 2011, whereby more than £5 million was extracted from investors to buy land at an inflated price on the false promise of a substantial profit. The eight confiscation orders totalled £2,195,496. All sums confiscated will be paid to those who suffered a quantifiable loss as a result of their investments in the unauthorised collective investment schemes.

FCA announces proposed new AML role   

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that it has been proposed that it will be given further responsibility by the Treasury for reviewing anti-money laundering (AML) supervision carried out by professional bodies, through what will be known as the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS). Funded via a fee to be levied on professional body supervisors — such as the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the Institute of Chartered Accountants, OPBAS will seek to remove inconsistencies and loopholes exploited by money launderers across the various AML regimes in force. The Treasury has proposed that OPBAS will have powers to fine supervisors should AML regulations implementing the fourth Money Laundering Directive, be breached.

Conservative manifesto proposes abolition of the SFO  

Theresa May has revealed plans to incorporate the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into the National Crime Agency as part of the Conservative Party Manifesto which has sparked much commentary. Whilst she was Home Secretary, similar proposals had been made by Mrs May, but not taken forward. The SFO was also named earlier this year as one of several agencies being reviewed by the Cabinet Office. The manifesto commitment has caused concerns amongst, inter alia, anti-corruption NGOs, who are concerned about the potential dilution of the SFO's focus if it is folded into the NCA, which has a wider remit.

UK Government announces consultation on post-Brexit sanctions framework  

One of the many legal issues to be determined in the wake of Brexit will be the way in which the UK approaches its international sanctions framework, since the vast majority of the sanctions currently in force in the UK have directly applicable EU Regulations as their basis.  The Government has recently launched a public consultation into the question of the legal powers needed to impose sanctions after Brexit, while a House of Lords enquiry into UK sanctions policy is also underway. For a full briefing on the consultation, please click here.