The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed that it initiated the recent prosecution of an individual who is suspected of destroying important documents. This is the first time the FCA has cited the Financial Services and Markets Act when launching criminal proceedings for this offence, although similar prosecutions have previously been made under the Criminal Justice Act.

The defendant, who at the time of the alleged offence worked at an international bank, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 6 2019, charged with one count of “destroying documents which he knew or suspected were or would be relevant to an investigation.”

The defendant pleaded not guilty and he will now appear at Southwark Crown Court on October 4. He has been granted bail until that hearing takes place.

He was being investigated by the FCA as he was suspected of insider dealing. As part of its investigation, the regulator asked to look at his WhatsApp account. However, it is alleged that he deleted WhatsApp from his phone once the FCA had made its request.

Section 177(3)(a) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 says that:

“A person who knows or suspects that an investigation is being or is likely to be conducted under Part XI of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 is guilty of an offence if he falsifies, conceals, destroys or otherwise disposes of a document which he knows or suspects is or would be relevant to such an investigation; or he causes or permits the falsification, concealment, destruction or disposal of such a document, unless he shows that he had no intention of concealing facts disclosed by the documents from the investigator.”

The maximum sentence for this offence is two years’ imprisonment.

The individual in question is reported to have worked as head of business development at a City of London securities brokerage and investment advisory firm since he left his role at the bank in 2016. The firm which recruited him to the business development role last year have said that he no longer works for them.

The FCA has wide-ranging powers to request data, documents etc. when investigating an individual or a firm.

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article