Better Late than Never
May 31 2019
The recent decisions by the FCA to fine UBS and Goldman Sachs £27.6 million and £34.3 million for transaction reporting failures going back to November 2007 and HBOS for its failure to inform the regulator of its suspicions that fraud was occurring in its Impaired Assets team – again in 2007 – is a reminder that the failings of long ago still have bite. All three firms will doubtless be relieved to put these investigations, finally, behind them. Systems changes will have been made, extensive remediation measures taken, training given and few, if any, of the people involved will still be in the organisations. Sighs of relief all round. After all, the past is another country. They did things differently then.
And yet, 12 years from the events in question to enforcement is a generation, probably two, in City terms. There will be people now starting their banking careers who were in short trousers when these events were happening. It will be all too easy for them to think that there is little for them to learn from what went on in these cases. After all, haven’t all the lessons already been learnt? They would be wrong.
For those training the next generation, the challenge is to make the lessons to be learnt from these past cases real for people working today – if the same dismal cycle is not to be repeated in future. Perhaps too the FCA might realise that the pursuit of perfection in their investigations risks making their ultimate outcomes little more than historical accounts of past misdeeds rather than a quick sharp reminder to those involved and their contemporaries of the perils of not taking their obligations seriously. Delaying justice for too long risks not just denying it but blunting its wider impact.