Caught in the act: 10 of the biggest watchdog fines
It seems you can’t read the news these days without another company being smacked with a multi-million pound fine and a slap on the wrists for doing something they shouldn’t have been doing.
We take a look at the top fines to hit companies that were doing the consumer wrong.
Libor Rigging, 2012/2013
Last year the news of Libor and Euribor rates rigging – the rates at which banks lend to each other – saw a number of household names penalised.
Despite very few consumers actually being affected by the riggings, the anti-bank sentiment had many up in arms over the financial services industry’s (mis)conducts.
UBS – £160m, 2012
Royal Bank of Scotland – £87.5m, 2013
Barclays – £59.5m, 2012
British Airways £58.5m, 2012
The airline was smacked with a record fine for colluding with rival Virgin Atlantic over passenger fuel surcharges by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The initial fine was £121.5m, but the OFT halved it to £58.5m because BA ‘co-operated with it in its investigations’.
JPMorgan Securities: £33.3m, 2010
The largest single fine the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has imposed was a whopping £33.3m levied on JPMorgan Securities in June 2010 for failing to protect client money.
The regulator fined the UK arm of the investment bank for breaching its client money rules by failing to segregate $23bn of client money from its other operations.
The FSA said that the penalty reflected the ‘scale of the problem and the fact it had gone undetected for seven years’.
Shell: £17m, 2004
The third largest fine in the history of the FSA was surprisingly not levied on a financial services company but on oil company Shell.
Shell was fined £17m in August 2004 for misleading investors for half a decade about the true extent of its oil reserves. When the real figures were revealed, its share price dropped 7.5% and its market capitalisation fell £2.bn.
Card Protection Plan £10.5m, 2012
The credit card insurer Card Protection Plan (CPP) was hit with the FSA’s largest retail fine of £10.5m for widespread mis-selling of insurance products.
Customers were told that CPP’s card protection product would provide consumers with up to £100,000 of insurance cover, when they were already covered by their banks, while thoroughly overstating the risks and consequences of identity theft in selling its identity protection product.
HSBC £10.5m, 2011
HSBC was slapped with a fine of £10.5m for inappropriate investment advice, as provided by one of its subsidiarises, NHFA.
Between 2005 and 2010, it had advised more than 2,000 elderly customers to invest in asset-backed investment products, typically investment bonds.
These types of investments are meant to be held for a minimum term of 5 years, but they were being sold to clients who were already in long-term care.
SSE £10.5m, 2013
Regulator, Ofgem, fined energy giant SSE a record £10.5m for mis-selling after it found failures at “every stage of SSE’s sales process”.
The fine is the largest ever imposed on an energy supplier.
Blackrock £9.5m, 2012
Between October 2006 and March 2010, the investment management arm of Blackrock failed to put trust letters in place for money market deposits in third party banks.
It also failed to take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs in relation to the identification and protection of client money.
Bank of Scotland £4.2m, 2012
Bank of Scotland was fined £4.2m by the FSA for failing to keep up-to-date and accurate information about 250,000 of its mortgage customers, leading to much confusion of what type of product each customer was on and what caps they were eligible for on the bank’s standard variable rate for mortgages.
Santander £1.5m, 2012
Santander failed to confirm to customers under what circumstances its products would be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
The bank had sold around £2.7bn worth of structured products, some very complex savings products, between 2008 and 2010 but had failed to inform its customers over the extent to which they could be compensated.