FCA fines Barclays £284,432,000 for forex failings

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed a financial penalty of £284,432,000 (€400 million) on Barclays Bank Plc (Barclays) for failing to control business practices in its foreign exchange (FX) business in London. This is the largest financial penalty ever imposed by the FCA, or its predecessor the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Barclays’ failure to adequately control its FX business is particularly serious in light of its potential impact on the systemically important spot FX market. The failings occurred throughout Barclays’ London voice trading FX business, extending beyond G10 spot FX trading into EM spot FX trading, options and sales, undermining confidence in the UK financial system and putting its integrity at risk.

Georgina Philippou, the FCA’s acting director of enforcement and market oversight said: “This is another example of a firm allowing unacceptable practices to flourish on the trading floor. Instead of addressing the obvious risks associated with its business Barclays allowed a culture to develop which put the firm’s interests ahead of those of its clients and which undermined the reputation and integrity of the UK financial system.  Firms should scrutinise their own systems and cultures to ensure that they make good on their promises to deliver change.”

Between 1 January 2008 and 15 October 2013, Barclays’ systems and controls over its FX business were inadequate. These behaviours included inappropriately sharing information about clients’ activities and attempting to manipulate spot FX currency rates, including in collusion with traders at other firms, in a way that could disadvantage those clients and the market.

Barclays and other firms are already participating in an industry-wide remediation programme to ensure that they address the root causes of the failings in their FX businesses and that they drive up standards.