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FCA fines firm's compliance officer

The Financial Conduct Authority has fined a firm's compliance officer £19,600 for failing to deal with the regulator in an open and cooperative way.

Anthony Willis was in the role of compliance officer, an approved person, at the Bank of Beirut UK when the bank repeatedly provided the regulator with misleading information regarding its financial crime systems and controls, the FCA said.

He has been fined £19,600 and his colleague Michael Allin, the internal auditor, has been fined £9,900, as the FCA said they failed to deal with the regulator in an open and cooperative way when responding to its queries.

In addition, the bank has been fined £2.1 million by the FCA.

Georgina Philippou, acting director of enforcement and market oversight, said: “It is essential to consumer protection, market integrity and the prevention of financial crime that we can rely on firms giving us the right information at the right time."

“Wills and Allin provided a number of misleading communications to us, which is a serious breach of their responsibilities as approved persons. We are reliant on compliance officers and internal audit to act as a first line of defence, to support effective regulation at firms and to show backbone even when challenged by their colleagues.”

Concerns about the culture within Bank of Beirut became apparent following supervisory visits to the firm in 2010 and 2011, and it was required to take a number of actions to address these concerns.

However, Bank of Beirut repeatedly provided misleading information to the regulator indicating that it had completed remedial actions when it had not.

The FCA said it recognised that both Wills and Allin were influenced by senior management, however, the FCA relied on the word of Wills and Allin to gain comfort that the changes to the firm’s processes had been completed and given Wills and Allin’s position as approved persons, they should have resisted their senior management in these circumstances.

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