Global Market Abuse Enforcement Drive Ramped Up as Iosco Shames Regulators

Terry Flanagan

The fight against cross-border fraud and market abuse has been ramped up after a small minority of nations continue to fail to share market information that could potentially weaken global markets.

Iosco, the umbrella group of global securities regulators, has recently revealed that 30 countries still pose a threat to cross-border fraud in terms of insider dealing, market manipulation and misrepresentation of material information.

These nations, which Iosco has named and shamed, pose challenges to global securities regulation by not conforming and signing up to a memorandum of understanding that has been in force for the past decade.

Cross-border fraud can weaken global markets and undermine investor confidence.

“Regulations are not as tight in some countries, that is without question,” said David Robinson, managing principal and portfolio manager of Prodigy Capital, a U.K.-based fund management boutique which invests in emerging markets.

“Some can be corrupt and it is quite easy to essentially defraud investors.”

Iosco, or the International Organization of Securities Commissions to give it its full title, says it has published the list to encourage non-signatory members to take the measures needed for them to sign the memorandum, as part of a commitment to eradicate potential safe havens for wrongdoers. New signatories will also contribute to strengthening Iosco’s international enforcement network.

“Publishing the list of non-signatories to the [memorandum of understanding] is an important step for Iosco, and not one we have taken lightly,” said Georgina Philippou, chair of Iosco’s committee four on enforcement and the exchange of information and co-chair of the multilateral memorandum of understanding screening group.

“The [memorandum] is an essential tool in the fight against cross-border market misconduct and Iosco wants all its members to reach the high standards of enforcement and international co-operation required to sign the [memorandum] so that those who commit market misconduct have nowhere to hide.”

The non-signatories include Argentina, who are a member of the Iosco board, as well as other emerging markets such as Chile, Indonesia, Philippines, Russia and Vietnam.

The Iosco memorandum provides a mechanism for securities regulators to share essential information and sets out requirements for the exchange of information ensuring that no domestic laws prevent the provision of information among securities regulators.

Approximately 95% of global securities markets, or 93 members, are signed up to the memorandum and of the 30 who are not yet signatories, 25 have expressed their commitment to seek the changes necessary for achieving compliance.

Iosco says that “cross-border cases of wrongdoing that could not have been investigated 10 years ago can now be investigated and brought before the relevant courts and tribunals” and Iosco now has the powers to impose tougher measures to encourage compliance by it non-signatories.

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