The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has signed extended an arrangement it has had in place with the City of London police to all polices forces in England and Wales.
The agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) sets out how the regulator and police will co-operate on investigations where the FSA has powers to prosecute.
The Memorandum of Understanding, as it is know between the two bodies, replaces the more limited agreement that has existed between the FSA and the City of London Police since July 2003. It gives the FSA the option to request the assistance of police from any part of the country, in questioning individuals in the case of arrestable offences. These included insider dealing, which is covered by section 52 of the Criminal Justice Act 1993, and making false and misleading statements, covered by section 397 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
In a typical investigation of this kind the FSA says the suspect is usually invited to an interview on a voluntary basis as it is not generally possible to use compelled evidence in a criminal prosecution. Such interviews are carried out under the rules set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), 1984. But, continues the regulator, voluntary interviews are not always appropriate and the suspect may decline the invitation in which case, if the investigation concerns an arrestable offence. In such instances the FSA may make a request for assistance to the police to arrest the individual for questioning by the FSA.
Questioning then takes place at the relevant police station and is conducted in accordance with PACE. The FSA can also apply to the courts for a search warrant that allows an investigator, in the company and under the supervision of a police constable, to enter and search premises and take relevant documents.
The FSA has had the power to investigate financial crimes since December 2001. Since then it has requested the police arrest individuals for questioning 5 times in relation to 2 different investigations. It has also obtained and executed search warrants 12 times in relation to 5 cases that include investigations into unauthorised business and criminal market abuse cases. Until now, the FSA and relevant police forces have used the agreement between itself and the City of London Police as the basis for co-operation. But the regulator says It seemed sensible to reach an agreement that applied to all police forces and to include search warrants within this agreement at the same time.
The agreement sets out, amongst other things, the circumstances in which the police will assist the FSA, how requests for assistance should be made, confidentiality provisions, and the respective responsibilities of the FSA and the police.IFAonline
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