Market abuse refers to processes in which individuals and/or firms aim to decrease market integrity and reduce investor protections. An offence related to Market Abuse is Market Manipulation. In 2016, the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR), which contains prohibitions on market manipulation and other market abuse offences, came into effect. You can find out about this in the introduction to VinciWorks’ Market Abuse Course.
28 January marks the 12th annual Data Protection Day, launched by the Council of Europe in 2006. The day marks the date on which the Council of Europe’s data protection convention, known as “Convention 108” was opened to signature. This was the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.
Since the last Data Protection Day, the EU has made great strides in ensuring businesses respect and protect individuals’ personal data, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force on 25 May. The US looks set to follow suit with the California Consumer Privacy Act, which has a lot of similarities to GDPR, coming into force in January 2020. Further, Google’s recent €50 million fine by France and cyber security breaches reportedly costing UK victims over £190,000 a day shows still have a long way to go to ensure businesses truly protect personal data.
While some organisations are slowly working towards complying with GDPR, others are proactively reviewing their policies, processes and training. To help with compliance, the VinciWorks GDPR resource page is regularly updated with policy templates, five minute knowledge checks and direct access to all our GDPR webinars.
The new Market Rules courses contain interactive scenario questions to test users’ understanding of the law
VinciWorks has released two new courses under the subject of Market Rules to help businesses train their staff and comply with complex competition law and market abuse rules. Coming against the backdrop of increasing enforcement action from the Competition and Markets Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority, VinciWorks’ new Market Rules courses will cover UK competition law and the European Union’s Market Abuse Regulations.
Competition Law: Know Your Market
Competition Law: Know Your Market drops users into a set of immersive scenarios to test their knowledge, understanding, and ability to comply with UK competition law.
The course is broken into short modules that cover different aspects of UK competition law, including price-fixing, cartels and meetings with competitors. Each module contains simulations of real business dilemmas with key learning points related to the scenario.
The Fifth Money Laundering Directive has been passed. Here’s what you need to know
The Fourth Money Laundering Directive may have only recently been implemented into national law around the EU, but on 19 April 2018, the European Parliament announced it had adopted the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive. On 19 June 2018 the final text was published. EU members will have 18 months to transpose the Fifth Directive into national law. However, some countries have already done so.
In a webinar on competition law, I interviewed the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) David Harper and Kwadjo Adjepong. During the interview, they covered price fixing, market sharing and cartels. You can download the full interview and webinar, together with useful competition law compliance resources, here.
Lack of knowledge on competition law
In a recent study conducted by the CMA, most businesses were unclear of the dangers of breaching competition law, with a third of businesses unaware that it is illegal to fix prices. Head of Investigations and Intelligence David Harper cited that a lot of companies are more concerned with money laundering regulation, with half of businesses not even knowing it was illegal to discuss prices with other businesses in their industry. While the vast majority of companies want to do the right thing, they find all the legislation difficult to work through. David sees a big part of the CMA’s role as supporting competition to allow businesses and consumers to benefit from competition law.
The Lawyer recently published an article highlighting some of the biggest City law firms’ lack of effort in combatting workplace harassment and bullying. In the article, these large firms are criticised for only doing the minimum, if that, to ensure workplace harassment does not go unnoticed and unidentified. When faced by The Lawyer with the question of how many people have been dismissed for inappropriate behaviour in the past year, many firms avoided answering the question.
In our recent webinar we covered competition law and what you need to know to be compliant. We were lucky to be joined by Head of Investigations and Intelligence David Harper and Assistant Director of Cartels within the Enforcement Directorate Kwadjo Adjepong from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). We explored the implications of existing competition law and gave guidance on how to comply with the legislation. We also answered questions on competition law and what you need to do to comply.
All non-public precise information relating to your company, which, if made public, would be likely to have a significant effect on the price of financial instruments relating to your company is considered to be inside information. The existence of inside information must always be reported as soon as possible to the Inside Information Committee (IIC) by any person that suspects that certain information may constitute inside information.
No inside information may be publicly disclosed by other means than official press releases in accordance with the rules. Disclosing inside information by means of sharing such information with other people, such as but not limited to: journalists, analysts, shareholders, employees or other similar persons is strictly prohibited and can constitute a crime. Inside information can only be shared with persons who need access to such information in order to fulfil their professional duties, and as long as they are bound by a duty of confidentiality and are included in the relevant insider list.
Insider trading and inside information policy
All inside information must be handled with care and strict confidentiality in order to avoid a breach. Any employee who suspects a violation of your organisation’s policy must speak up and raise the issue to their immediate manager, or follow the company’s whistleblowing procedures. VinciWorks’ insider trading and inside information policy template can easily be edited to include your business’ reporting procedures and relevant contact information.
In October, it was revealed that banker Howard Wilkinson blew the whistle on Danske Bank in 2013, beginning a five year investigation on the bank. The concerns raised by Wilkinson helped uncover an alarming €200 billion in suspicious payments being made through Danske’s Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.
The scandal, representing money laundering on a huge scale, threw a spotlight on European banks and their efforts to protect against fraud and precipitated renewed considerations of the effectiveness of regulators’ defenses. Further, the revelation challenged businesses to up their game in installing a culture whereby whistleblowing on suspicious or illegal activity is encouraged, with clear procedures for doing so in place.
The role of anti-money laundering whistleblowers
Whistleblowers are defined as those who expose information or activities deemed illegal or unethical. They have historically played an important role in helping banks protect the economic interests of the UK and clampdown on wrongdoing in the financial services industry. Whistleblowers who report suspicions of money laundering often have inside knowledge which is vital for fighting such crimes. However, blowing the whistle on such activities can often put them in a vulnerable position; they often know the subject, or subjects, of the allegations personally through their work and are put under pressure to remain silent on the information they hold that can incriminate their colleagues. While whistleblowers are protected by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, making them immune from any repercussions, many feel at risk of personal retribution when making the report.
Businesses large and small are continuing to have sensitive data held at ransom and suffer from cyber security breaches. As a result, millions of individuals’ personal data has been compromised, costing businesses billions. For example, 50 million Facebook user accounts were compromised, FIFA documents were leaked, pointing to serious corruption, and around 380,000 British Airways transactions were breached. In many cases, breaches occur a long time before the target is aware or affected users are notified, meaning a lot of damage is done before the issue can be dealt with. For example, in 2013 and 2014, a suspected 3 billion Yahoo users’ accounts were compromised in a breach that was not reported until 2016. Clear reporting procedures are therefore needed to allow all staff to easily report any cyber attacks or suspicions of a breach.