In 2019 the watchdog imposed financial penalties and fines of over £310m and ordered £231m to be paid in restitution, mainly to clients, a total of £541m.
The figures were revealed this week in a speech in London by Mark Steward, FCA executive director of enforcement and market oversight.
Mr Steward said that most of the cases involving financial penalties were for “serious breaches of the General Principles.”
Firms in these cases paid too little attention to the FCA’s General Principles. He said firms must engage with the principles when undertaking regulated activities to avoid penalties.
He told the City & Financial Global Ltd Conference that fines were not just about enforcement but also about dealing with the consequences of financial misconduct for clients.
He said: “Over the course of 2019 we imposed financial penalties totalling over £310m on firms that have also paid or are paying associated restitution and compensation of over £231m.
“This is consistent with our aim to deal not only with serious misconduct but also ensure its consequences are addressed. I cannot reiterate how important this is.
“While the absence of crime and misconduct is a noble cause, it is hopelessly unlikely. Things will go wrong and some of those things that go wrong will be caused by or involve regulatory misconduct.”
He warned firms that fail to take swift action to remedy mistakes or misconduct soon after they are spotted could face tougher fines.
He said: “As we have made publicly clear, we may impose tougher sanctions where we see firms failing to correct relevant deficiencies and make good losses to consumers caused by those firms’ failings.
“We may also reduce sanctions to give credit for rapidly-commenced, pro-active, co-operative and thorough remediation, especially consumer redress.”
While the FCA has been tough on regulated firms, Mr Steward said the regulator would also not hesitate to act against non-regulated firms, as it had proved recently.
Recent cases included:
• Compensation proceedings against Park First Ltd, an illegal collective investment scheme targeting SIPP investors that raised £230m from over 4,500 investors. The FCA is seeking compensation for investors who lost “substantial sums of money they cannot afford to lose.”
• Two current High Court cases against two unregulated pension introducers and connected individuals who were involved in the transfer of at least £86m of pension assets from 2,000 pensioners. The FCA is seeking compensation for clients.
• Recent long running action against Dharam Prakash Gopee, an “incorrigible repeat offender” who caused substantial harm to vulnerable consumers for many years, in defiance of court orders, through illegal money lending, leading to a confiscation order of a record £5.1m.