The expected breakup of the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority shouldn’t disrupt or halt its pipeline of criminal cases and record fines, said Margaret Cole, the agency’s enforcement director.
The financial oversight agency has four criminal insider-trading trials scheduled through next year and is prosecuting 18 people in four other cases, Ms. Cole said Tuesday at an FSA enforcement conference in London. The pipeline has taken years to build and “quick wins” in court aren’t possible, she said.
“It’s important, if we are to continue to get results, that this pipeline isn’t disrupted, especially because these complex matters have a long investigatory period before charging and a lengthy court process before trial,” Ms. Cole said. “We must build on this progress, not lose it.”
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said June 17 he will abolish the FSA and give most of its power to the Bank of England. The FSA’s enforcement unit, which prosecutes insider trading and market abuse, will be combined with the U.K. Serious Fraud Office and the Office of Fair Trading to create an economic crime agency.
The move comes as the FSA has stepped up its regulation activity and won three of the four insider-trading prosecutions it has brought to trial after complaints it did little to block the financial crisis.
The agency has transformed itself by hiring top-quality workers who can “do battle” with those it regulates and end the perception that financial industry professionals enjoy a two-tier system of justice, Ms. Cole said.