Ex-FCA Chair: UK Regulator Faced 'Political Pressure' to Welcome Crypto Firms

Charles Randell said that some crypto firms that the FCA was pressured to approve now face criminal investigations in the U.S.

By Tim Hakki

2 min read

One of the UK’s leading regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), allegedly came under “political pressure” to approve crypto firms that now face criminal investigations overseas, according to its former chair Charles Randell.

Randell was speaking at a conference on Tuesday hosted by the Bank of England regulatory body, the Prudential Regulation Authority.

“In the context of crypto, in my experience as FCA chair, there was a lot of political pressure to welcome firms, some of which are now under criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice” he said, before adding: “all the evidence that we had at the FCA was that wasn’t a very good idea.”

Randell added that the pressure directed at the FCA reveals a “governance challenge” for regulators: “How do you embed the safeguards against agency capture – either by the industry or selected industry interests, or actually by political interest?”

Randell’s tenure as FCA Chair ran from April 2018 to May 2022, meaning he would have overseen several of the 43 firms currently approved to offer crypto services in the UK, which include Bitpanda, Gemini, Revolut and eToro.

Decrypt reached out to the FCA regarding Randell’s allegations but did not receive an immediate response.

FCA crypto advertising deadline looms

Earlier this summer, the FCA told crypto companies advertising in the UK that they have until October 8 to get in line with the regulator’s existing financial promotion regime. All companies have to make an application and pay a fee to get approved.

The regulator isn’t just targeting domestic crypto firms, either. It stated that if a company’s marketing scheme reaches or influences British customers in any way, it will fall under the FCA’s purview.

There will be four routes for legally communicating financial promotions to UK customers, all of which involve getting approval in some form from an FCA-regulated body.

Failure to comply, says the FCA, can result in two years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.

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