Suspect financial services operators told their days are numbered
Actions the FSCA can take include removing the licence of a person or business to operate in SA, levying administrative penalties and recommending criminal prosecution
Individual financial services operators and organisations that are out to fleece members of the public need to beware: the financial sector regulator has been beefed up and is ready to take action against unscrupulous operators.
This is the message from Brandon Topham, the newly appointed divisional executive for investigations and enforcement at the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) who is passionate about protecting the public against crooks.
He discussed the financial sector regulator’s approach to investigations and enforcement at a media round table discussion in Cape Town this week.
The FSCA is responsible for the conduct of all financial sector services providers in SA and has the authority to investigate cases of market abuse and to ensure that no unregistered businesses or individuals operate in the country without the legislated licences.
Topham says actions that the FSCA can take include removing the licence of a person or business to operate in SA, levying substantial administrative penalties and recommending to the prosecuting authorities that criminal charges be laid against transgressors.
The average time for investigations to be concluded by the FSCA is around 24 months, which is similar to the financial sector regulators in countries such as the UK and Australia, he says.
The FSCA investigations team has been beefed up to 60 people and it can also outsource investigations if it requires additional capacity.
The new approach of the FSCA is to be more proactive. Apart from investigating and taking action against operators, it is monitoring the conduct of financial services providers. It even keeps an eye on advertisements and social media to pick up unscrupulous operators who are attempting to illegally solicit money from you.
In terms of its mandate under the Financial Sector Regulation Act the FSCA can now — unlike when it served as the enforcement division of its forerunner, the Financial Services Board — take action against unlicensed entities by debarring them. I will continue to warn the public against such operators.
One of the roles of the FSCA is to issue conduct standards for operators in the financial services sector such as banks, insurers, collective investment schemes, financial advisers and stockbrokers.
Pyramid schemes remain the domain of the National Consumer Commission but where financial advice has been given to members of the public to invest in such schemes, the conduct of the advisers will be investigated by the FSCA.
Although it has not yet exercised this power, the FSCA has the wide-ranging authority to declare any scheme or product a financial product.
To contact the FSCA, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com
If you have been defrauded of money you can call the FSCA’s call centre and lodge a complaint. Should it be found that your case does not fall within the ambit of the FSCA, it will be referred to other bodies such as the National Consumer Commission or the National Credit Regulator.