Author: Azizur Rahman 22 April 2022
Thomson Reuters asked Aziz Rahman about the significance of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) securing its first ever account forfeiture order and account freezing orders.
The FCA announced the £2 million account forfeiture order on money held by QPay Europe, which says it is a fintech start up offering due diligence and underwriting services. This action followed the FCA's account freezing orders on that money.
Aziz told Thomson Reuters’ Regulatory Intelligence that the FCA is now “catching up’’ when it comes to using powers that it has had for over four years. He pointed out that other enforcement agencies, such as HM Revenue and Customs and the National Crime Agency, have been using account freezing orders effectively.
Aziz explained that account freezing orders, which were introduced under the Criminal Finances Act 2017, are “an extremely useful tool in the FCA's armoury’’. They are useful because they give the FCA a low-cost route to ensuring the forfeiting of cash which it says is derived from unlawful conduct.
As the standard of proof required for such action is the lower civil standard, Aziz expressed his belief that the FCA may use many more such orders in the future. As they are shielded from adverse costs orders, they are a low risk for the FCA – in the same way unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) now are since the passing of the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 last month.
Aziz's comments were published by Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence. (Subscription required)
Aziz Rahman is Senior Partner at Rahman Ravelli and its founder. His ability to coordinate national, international and multi-agency defences has led to success in some of the most significant corporate crime cases of this century and top rankings in international legal guides. He is recognised worldwide as one of the most capable legal experts regarding top-level, high-value commercial and financial disputes.