Market abuse risks for financial services firms have increased significantly as a result of the market turmoil arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken in response to it. Despite the prevailing constraints on normal operations, there has been no relaxation of regulatory requirements in relation to market abuse. As Mark Steward, the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, said in remarks reported on 4 May 2020, “No one should think that the current circumstances, as unusual… as they are, mean that there is any call for [behavioural] standards to be reduced or lowered.”
In this article, we examine the increased risks of market abuse for UK financial sector firms (focusing on risks relating to ‘inside information’), the FCA’s stated position in respect of these issues, and certain steps firms should consider taking to mitigate such risks.
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