Labour refers Suella Braverman to financial watchdog

Labour’s Shadow City Minister, Tulip Siddiq MP, has written to the Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Nikhil Rathi, asking that the FCA investigates Suella Braverman for potentially breaking insider trading laws by deliberately leaking sensitive government information using her personal e-mail address.

In her letter Siddiq says:

“…there are increasingly concerning suggestions that the information disclosed by the Home Secretary contained highly sensitive information regarding Government plans
for ‘growth visas’. As the guidance from the FCA makes clear, policy changes can constitute inside information. This could have affected the projections by the Office of Budget Responsibility and thereby tangibly influence financial markets. As such, the information may have constituted inside information under the Market Abuse Regulation.

At the time of the Home Secretary’s resignation, Downing Street officials informed journalists that one of the reasons for this was because her leaks included market sensitive information. I believe this is a case to answer. Furthermore, public interest and industry confidence in measures intending to prevent and deter insider trading relies on the knowledge that they will be fully enforced and that no-one is above the law.

The FCA’s guidance is clear that Article 10 of the Market Abuse Regulation, which sets out the offence of unlawful disclosure of inside information is the most relevant area of the Market Abuse Regulation for government departments. It is also clear that if a person discloses inside information‘in the normal exercise of an employment, a profession or duties’ then the law is not being broken. Regretfully, it is increasingly difficult to see that the disclosure of market sensitive, confidential,
significant policy from a personal email address to someone outside of Government is included in
this exception to the rules.

I understand that breaching insider trading laws does not require proof that market sensitive information has been acted upon for gain and that the act of unlawful disclosure is a serious offence in its own right. The FCA has successfully pursued instances of market abuse which did not deliberately set out to commit market abuse.”

Tulip Siddiq’s full letter to the FCA can be read here.

Tulip Siddiq has also written to the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case, asking for a government inquiry into the leak. In that letter she said:

“It is alarming that the Home Secretary has been distributing documents with serious market implications without any consideration for their security or for market integrity. As the Financial Conduct Authority best practice note for government departments on handling inside information states, “because of the work you do, your organisation may hold information that is confidential, non-public and valuable. If it was disclosed to the public, it could affect the market prices of shares and other financial instruments. If handled incorrectly, it could lead to disorderly markets. This would damage the integrity of the UK market, as well as creating the potential for market abuse, such as insider dealing”.

Given the significance of the matter involving the Home Secretary I have asked the Financial Conduct Authority to investigate this case.

It is also incredibly important that the Government addresses this given the significance of the matter. If the information disclosed by the Home Secretary was indeed market sensitive, then by leaking it she could have breached the Government’s own Market Abuse Regulation. This would be very serious at any level, but it is intolerable and inexcusable for the Home Secretary to be guilty of directly leaking market sensitive plans.

The Market Abuse Regulation applies to every person and business in our country and the Home Secretary must not be subject to different rules from the rest of us. Businesses in the financial sector and listed companies are rightly required to spend millions complying with the Market Abuse Regulation. They will be dismayed that the Home Secretary seems to think that different rules apply to her compared to everyone else.”

Tulip Siddiq’s letter to Simon Case is available here.

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