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.
California Bill No. 375, also known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, was
approved and passed on the 28th of June 2018. While it won’t come into effect until
January 1st, 2020, it is necessary for all organizations involved to have a comprehensive understanding of the law’s requirements and what is expected of them. The Act is applicable to any business, partnership, company, corporation, or legal entity that operates for the purpose of profiting as well as collects consumer’s personal information from the state of California. While The Act has certain similarities to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it’s conditions are somewhat different.
VinciWorks has published a whitepaper that explains the California Consumer Privacy Act and gives guidance on how businesses can comply with The Act.
This time last year, GDPR dominated the compliance agenda for 2018. Like many promised cliff edges, the data protection ravine many feared business would collapse into didn’t quite materialise. While some websites are still blocking users from the EU due to alleged ‘GDPR’ issues, the shift to a new data protection regime seemed to go not too badly. This isn’t because GDPR isn’t being taken seriously, quite the opposite. The promise of eye-watering fines and enforcement action spurred a multi-industry push to get GDPR compliance right.
For that reason, GDPR stays in the lead of our top compliance trends for 2019.
1. Moving from GDPR compliance to best practice
As GDPR day on 25 May 2018 approached, businesses big and small rushed to get their privacy notices updated and flooded all of our inboxes asking us to accept their new terms of re-give consent. Most of this was pointless and unnecessary, not to mention greatly annoying to us all. Plus it exposed a rather gaping failure to grasp the six conditions for processing data under GDPR and the myth that consent is always the best or strongest condition.
With close to 2,000 cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in circulation, regulating the currency is a key objective of the Fifth Money Laundering Directive
Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are set to be a key compliance theme of 2019, with the upcoming Fifth Money Laundering Directive setting out to regulate cryptocurrencies. While the first and most common cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, there are now close to 2,000 in existence, with the number continuing to grow. This level of growth causes two core issues; namely that cryptocurrencies are currently unregulated and that they can be used to launder money due to the unique way in which they are traded. In addition, some cryptocurrencies are either fake or are used to fuel financial scams.