UK 'doubled' stock market trade probes

The number of suspicious stock market trades reported to the UK's City watchdog have more than doubled during the past five years, figures showed today.

The Financial Services Authority received around 20 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) a month in 2005, but this had ballooned to just over 50 a month by last year, according to figures obtained by the Telegraph newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act.

Overall, there were 115 STRs in the second half of 2005, compared with 309 in the final six months of 2010.

The reports cover three main areas, namely the misuse of information, false or misleading information and distortion or manipulation of the market.

The vast majority of the reports fall under the misuse of information category, suggesting insider dealing.

But the regulator stressed that the figures did not necessary reflect an increase in wrong-doing, but may simply be due to greater reporting levels by City institutions.

Lee Alam, manager within the FSA market monitoring team, said: “The biggest part of the increase is undoubtedly due to ongoing educational work.

“In addition, some of it is down to increased emphasis on case work. Firms are seeing the increased enforcement action we are taking and know we are achieving results on the back of their STRs.

“They have also seen we are willing to take action against brokers who fail to meet their obligation to submit STRs.”

The watchdog conducts a preliminary investigation into all STRs, while a longer investigation is conducted in around 80% of cases, but only around 30 cases are being actively prosecuted at any one time.

Earlier this year City banker Christian Littlewood, 37, was jailed for three years and four months after he amassed more than £500,000 through insider trading.

He used his position as a corporate finance adviser to listen in to conversations in city pubs and spy on colleagues’ computer screens and documents.

His wife Angie then used her Chinese name to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in companies he found out were about to be bought.

More in this Section

Ireland's trade fair organisers seek clarity on when they can reopenIreland's trade fair organisers seek clarity on when they can reopen

Ireland sees sharp gain in construction activity recorded in JuneIreland sees sharp gain in construction activity recorded in June

Europe looks to ‘messy’ earnings that may test market’s optimismEurope looks to ‘messy’ earnings that may test market’s optimism

John Moran: Politicians must write the recovery plan, not bankersJohn Moran: Politicians must write the recovery plan, not bankers


The long-tailed tit’s nest is an architectural marvel.Richard Collins: Altruism of the long-tailed tits or not

The flight that brought us home to Ireland after our seven months sojourn in the Canary Islands (half our stay intended, half not) was the most comfortable I’ve experienced in years. With a large plane almost entirely to yourself, you could again pretend you were somebody.Damien Enright: Wonderful to see the green, green grass of home

IRISH folklore is replete with stories of priests praying for fine weather to help farmers save their crops in wet summers. However, the opposite could soon be happening when divine powers may have to be invoked to provide rain. And not just for farmers.Donal Hickey: Praying for rain — in Ireland

Geography is often the defining factor for the destiny of an island. Those islands that lie close to the shore have often been snapped up by interests on the mainland and their morphology changed to something completely different.The Islands of Ireland: Tarbert morphed onto the mainland

More From The Irish Examiner