FCA fines Interactive Brokers (UK) Limited £1,049,412 for poor market abuse controls and failure to report suspicious client transactions

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has today imposed a financial penalty on Interactive Brokers (UK) (IBUK) in the amount of £1,049,412 for failings in its post-trade systems and controls for identifying and reporting suspicious transactions in the period February 2014 to February 2015 (‘the Relevant Period’).

IBUK is an online broker based in London which arranges and executes transactions in certain financial instruments such as CFDs (contracts for difference) directly for its UK clients, and executes other products on behalf of other entities in the wider Interactive Brokers Group. 

IBUK delegated its post-trade monitoring to a team based at another company within the Interactive Brokers Group in the US. However, IBUK failed to adequately input into the design and calibration of the post-trade monitoring systems, or test their operation, to ensure that potential market abuse by its clients would be captured, and it failed to provide effective oversight of the US team’s conduct of the reviews of the reports produced. In particular, it carried out no quality assurance or monitoring of the review of the reports, and it failed to ensure that the staff conducting the reviews were adequately trained.

This heightened the risk of IBUK failing to submit suspicious transaction reports (STRs) to the FCA. Prior to being notified of the FCA’s concerns, during the Relevant Period IBUK failed to submit any STRs in relation to insider dealing and the Authority has identified three occasions on which IBUK failed to report suspicious trading by IBUK clients.

Mark Steward, Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:

'Firms not only have a key responsibility to report suspicious conduct in our capital markets, they also have an obligation to ensure their trading systems are not used for the purpose of financial crime. IBUK’s systems were inadequate and ineffective in the face of potentially suspicious transactions; they fell below the appropriate standards and exposed counterparties and the market to risks they did not bargain for. The FCA will continue to enforce appropriate standards of market conduct to ensure our markets function well.'

The FCA considers that the breach revealed serious and systemic weaknesses within IBUK’s procedures. The FCA has therefore fined IBUK £1,049,412.

Notes to editors

  1. Final notice for Interactive Brokers (UK) (PDF)
  2. Following the implementation of the Market Abuse Regulation in July 2016 firms are obligated to monitor orders in addition to transactions and consequently suspicious transaction and order reports (STORs) have replaced STRs.
  3. On 1 April 2013, the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
  4. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
  5. Find out more information about the FCA.