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Report: UK regulator hands out £60.5M in fines in 2018, a YOY drop of 74%

The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority handed out £60.5 million in fines in 2018, down 74% from £230 million in 2017, Bloomberg News reported Dec. 24.

The 2018 figure is as of Dec. 21, the news agency noted, and is dominated by a £32.8 million fine issued to Banco Santander SA unit Santander UK PLC for failing to appropriately disburse its deceased customers' money to their beneficiaries, a £16.4 million fine issued to Tesco Personal Finance PLC for a 2016 case related to cyber theft and a £5.3 million penalty issued to Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SE for oversight failures.

The recent fines pale in comparison to 2017's penalties, which included a £163 million fine issued to Deutsche Bank AG over failings in money laundering controls and a £34.5 million fine issued to Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch International over unreported derivative transactions.

A decline in value of fines does not indicate a decline in regulator activity — "[2017] could be seen as an aberrational high," Bloomberg reported, citing Jonathan Cary, a commercial disputes lawyer at RPC in London.

The lower value of fines perhaps dictates a change in strategy for the financial watchdog as it increasingly turns to fining individuals, such as senior executives, rather than companies following the introduction in 2016 of the Senior Managers Regime. The FCA now sees individual fines as a more effective deterrent against financial misconduct, according to the report.