The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is opening significantly more cases than it closes, creating a growing backlog of investigations into suspected misconduct, new figures have revealed. 

According to its enforcement annual performance report, the FCA opened 343 cases between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019 and closed just 189. The number of open cases rose from 496 to 650.

This figure has more than doubled in the past three years: from 237 in 2016 to 504 in March 2018. The number of open unauthorised business cases rose particularly sharply, from 77 in 2018 to 136 in 2019.

David Rundle, counsel in the UK white collar defence and investigations team at international firm WilmerHale, said: ‘If this trend continues the FCA could have over 800 open cases by next year. In these conditions it is hard to imagine that the timeframe for a contested enforcement action will not become markedly more protracted, unless the FCA increases its resources appropriately.’

The report also reveals that the average cost of criminal cases has soared from £886,000 to £7.2m. However, the increase is fuelled by one case, ‘Operation Tabernula’, an 11-year investigation into insider dealing.