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EG 15.1 1Introduction

EG 15.1.1

1Auditors and actuaries fulfil a vital role in the management and conduct of firms, AUTs and ACSs. Provisions of the Act, rules made under the Act and the OEIC Regulations 2000 impose various duties on auditors and actuaries. These duties and the FCA's power to disqualify auditors and actuaries if they breach them assist the FCA in pursuing its statutory objectives. The FCA's power to disqualify auditors in breach of duties imposed by trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules also assists the FCA to achieve these statutory objectives by ensuring that auditors fulfil the duties imposed on them by these rules.

EG 15.1.2

1The FCA also has the power under section 345 to impose a financial penalty and a public censure on an auditor or actuary in respect of a failure to comply with a duty imposed on the auditor or actuary by rules made by the FCA, or a failure to comply with a duty imposed under the Act to communicate information to the FCA. The FCA has the power under section 249 to impose a financial penalty and a public censure on an auditor in respect of a failure to comply with a duty imposed on him by trust scheme rules. The FCA’s statement of policy in relation to the imposition of financial penalties is set out in DEPP 6.2 (Deciding whether to take action) and DEPP 6.4 (Financial penalty or public censure). The FCA’s statement of policy in relation to determining the amount of a financial penalty is set out in DEPP 6.5 to DEPP 6.5D.

EG 15.2 1Disqualification of auditors and actuaries under its powers contained in section 345, section 249 and section 261K of the Act: the FCA's general approach

EG 15.2.1

1The FCA recognises that the use of its powers to disqualify auditors and actuaries will have serious consequences for the auditors or actuaries concerned and their clients; it will therefore exercise its power to impose a disqualification in a way that is proportionate to the particular breach of duty concerned. The FCA will consider the seriousness of the breach of duty when deciding whether to exercise its power to disqualify and the scope of any disqualification.

EG 15.2.2

1 Actuaries appointed by firms under rule 4.3.1 of the FCA's Supervision Manual are approved persons and as such will be subject to the FCA'sStatements of Principle and Code of Practice for Approved Persons. When deciding whether to exercise its power to disqualify an actuary who is an approved person, the FCA will consider whether the particular breach of duty can be adequately addressed by the exercise of its disciplinary powers in relation to approved persons.

EG 15.2.3

1In cases where the nature of the breach of duties imposed on the auditors and actuaries under the Act (and/or in the case of actuaries imposed by trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules) is such that the FCA has concerns about the fitness and propriety of an individual auditor or actuary, the FCA will consider whether it is appropriate to make a prohibition order instead of, or in addition to, disqualifying the individual.

EG 15.2.4

1A disqualification order will be made against the person appointed as auditor or actuary of the firm. In the case of actuaries, the disqualification order will be made against the individual appointed by the firm. In the case of auditors, the disqualification order will depend on the terms of the appointment. Where the firm has appointed a named individual as auditor the disqualification will be made against that individual and this will be the case where the individual concerned is a member of a firm of auditors. Where the firm has appointed a firm as auditor the disqualification order will be against that firm. Where the person appointed is a limited liability partnership the disqualification order will be against the limited liability partnership rather than its members.

EG 15.3 1Disqualification under section 345

EG 15.3.1

1When it decides whether to exercise its power to disqualify an auditor or actuary under section 345(1), and what the scope of any disqualification will be, the FCA will take into account all the circumstances of the case. These may include, but are not limited to, the following factors:

  1. (1)

    the nature and seriousness of any breach of rules and the effect of that breach: the rules are set out in SUP 3 (Auditors) and SUP 4 (Actuaries), and in the case of firms which are ICVCs, in COLL 4 (Investor relations) and COLL 7 (Suspension of dealings and termination of authorised funds). The FCA will regard as particularly serious any breach of rules which has resulted in, or is likely to result in, loss to consumers or damage to confidence in the financial system or an increased risk that a firm may be used for the purposes of financial crime;

  2. (2)

    the nature and seriousness of any breach of the duties imposed under the Act: the FCA will regard as particularly serious any failure to disclose to it information which has resulted in, or is likely to result in, loss to consumers or damage to confidence in the financial system or an increased risk that a firm may be used for the purposes of financial crime;

  3. (3)

    action taken by the auditor or actuary to remedy the breach: this may include whether the auditor or actuary brought the breach to the attention of the FCA promptly, the degree of cooperation with the FCA in relation to any subsequent investigation, and whether remedial steps have been taken to rectify the breach and whether reasonable steps have been taken to prevent a similar breach from occurring;

  4. (4)

    action taken by professional bodies: the FCA will consider whether any disciplinary action has been or will be taken against the auditor or actuary by a relevant professional body and whether that action adequately addresses the particular breach of duty;

  5. (5)

    The previous compliance record of the auditor or actuary concerned: whether the FCA (or a previous regulator) or professional body has imposed any previous disciplinary sanctions on the firm or individual concerned.

EG 15.4 1Disqualification under section 249 or section 261K

EG 15.4.1

1When deciding whether or not to disqualify an auditor under section 249(1) or section 261K(1) of the Act (concerning the power to disqualify an auditor for breach of trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules), and in setting the disqualification, the FCA will take into account all the circumstances of the case. These may include, but are not limited to, the following circumstances:

  1. (1)

    the effect of the auditor's breach of a duty imposed by trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules: the FCA will regard as particularly serious a breach of a duty imposed by trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules (set out in COLL 4 (Investor relations) and COLL 7 (Suspension of dealings and termination of authorised funds)) which has resulted in, or is likely to result in, loss to consumers or damage to confidence in the financial system or an increased risk that a firm may be used for the purposes of financial crime;

  2. (2)

    action taken by the auditor to remedy its breach of a duty imposed by trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules: this may include any steps taken by the auditor to bring the breach to the attention of the FCA promptly, the degree of co-operation with the FCA in relation to any subsequent investigation, and whether any steps have been taken to rectify the breach or prevent a similar breach;

  3. (3)

    action taken by a relevant professional body: The FCA will consider whether any disciplinary action has or will be taken against the auditor by a relevant professional body and whether such action adequately addresses the particular breach of a duty imposed by trust scheme rules or contractual scheme rules;

  4. (4)

    the previous compliance record of the auditor concerned: whether the FCA (or a previous regulator) or professional body has imposed any previous disciplinary sanctions on the firm or individual concerned.

EG 15.5 1Removal of a disqualification

EG 15.5.1

1An auditor or actuary may ask the FCA to remove the disqualification at any time after it has been imposed. The FCA will remove a disqualification if it is satisfied that the disqualified person will in future comply with the duty in question (and other duties under the Act). When it considers whether to grant or refuse a request that a disqualification be removed on these grounds, the FCA will take into account all the circumstances of a particular case. These circumstances may include, but are not limited to:

  1. (1)

    the seriousness of the breach of duty that resulted in the disqualification;

  2. (2)

    the amount of time since the original disqualification; and

  3. (3)

    any steps taken by the auditor or actuary after the disqualification to remedy the factors which led to the disqualification and any steps taken to prevent a similar breach of duty from happening again.