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Regulatory & Disciplinary Services

Regulatory & Disciplinary

Financial Reporting Council (FRC) investigations

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) regulates accountants and actuaries who are members of the principal professional bodies, including the ICAEW. The FRC brings disciplinary action where it suspects that a member has breached the professional code. Such enforcement usually includes an allegation of a lack of professional competence.

During the past decade, Corker Binning has acted investigations brought by the Conduct Division (Executive Counsel) of the FRC. We have acted both for the FRC and against the FRC, in cases such as First Quench, Autonomy, Asset Co and Quindell. Our experience acting for both sides has given us a unique insight into the FRC’s enforcement process. We are often able to predict the issues that will be of greatest interest to the FRC and the lines of questioning the FRC is likely to pursue during interviews. It gives us a tactical advantage when it comes to advising individuals at risk of enforcement action from the FRC.

Many of the largest FRC investigations are parallel to criminal and/or regulatory investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Autonomy and Quindell are two examples. Our expertise in these legal fields means we are adept at advising individuals on the interplay and opportunities that arise.

FRC investigations are a hybrid of civil and criminal law concepts. The FRC must prove its allegations to the civil standard, but the FRC operates a policy of disclosure based on the criminal law model. Like most criminal law enforcement agencies, the FRC has the power to compel interviewees to answer questions, but unlike in the criminal law context, those answers are admissible against the interviewee as evidence in the disciplinary process. We have significant experience of assisting individuals navigate such questions, which require the ability to look beyond the FRC investigation and take a holistic view of the wider risks.

We enjoy excellent relationships with many forensic accountants. Their input is often vital in persuading the FRC that its allegations are flawed. Like us, these forensic accountants have worked both for and against the FRC, which means they can also bring their inside knowledge to bear on the problems that clients, with our assistance, must resolve.