UK’s spending watchdog criticizes FCA for being too slow on crypto enforcement

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom has been under fire from the National Audit Office (NAO) for what it sees as a lack of crypto-savvy employees and a sluggish enforcement of crypto regulations.

The National Audit Office (NAO), an independent watchdog over public funds, came to that conclusion in a report released today. It posits that crypto-assets constitute a critical area of ambiguity that can impede the FCA’s regulatory capacity.

There can be a long wait between when the FCA finds a problem to fix and when it takes legal action, according to the report’s main results. The FCA’s sluggishness in tackling illicit crypto ATMs was mentioned.

The FCA started supervising unregistered firms and making crypto-asset companies follow anti-money laundering rules in January 2020, but it wasn’t until February 2023 that it started taking action against people who ran illegal crypto ATMs, according to the report.

Furthermore, it asserts that the FCA has taken “longer than planned” to register crypto-asset enterprises under money laundering legislation due to a lack of crypto expertise among employees.

“There has been a lot of worker turnover at the FCA, even at the higher levels,” according to the report. “Although the overall turnover for the FCA has decreased, there are still areas of expertise where delivery risks are still high.”

Finding and keeping employees with crypto compliance expertise was “difficult” for the FCA, according to the research, due to the high level of competition among companies.

From January 2020 through June 2023, the FCA allegedly handled more than 1,400 complaints involving illegal cryptocurrency activities. Between 2020 and the middle of 2022, it monitored 50,000 businesses in the UK and received 13,350 complaints of cryptocurrency fraud.

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