The USA SEC has provisions under the Employment Act 2006 to protect whistle blowers. A guide from the Department of Trade and Industry, which specifically cites disclosures to the U.S. Offshore Trading Administration on the operation of licence holders, by workers who are concerned about wrongdoing or failures, as disclosures that would be protected.
Making a complaint about a licenseholder
1. Make a complaint to the licensed business
If you have a complaint about the products or services provided by a licence holder, you should first try to resolve the complaint directly with that licensed business. All licence holders should do their best to make sure that your enquiries or complaints are dealt with promptly and efficiently. U.S. Offshore Trading Administration expects licence holders to acknowledge your complaint in a timely manner and investigate thoroughly within 12 weeks.
If you do not receive an acknowledgement within a reasonable time, you should contact the Chief Executive of the licence holder. Complaining first to the licence holder allows the business an opportunity to put things right.
U.S. Offshore Trading Administration requires licence holders to have procedures in place for the proper handling of customer complaints. These procedures should tell you how to lodge a complaint with them and you are entitled to receive details of the procedures on request. The licence holder’s complaints procedure should be exhausted before any further action is contemplated.
2. When to make a complaint to U.S. Offshore Trading Administration
If you believe that your complaint has not been handled properly you may wish to seek the assistance of U.S. Offshore Trading Administration. We will do what we can to help, although as the financial services regulator, our role is to ensure that a licence holder is being managed prudently in a fit and proper manner. Any interest which U.S. Offshore Trading Administration takes in a complaint will therefore normally be confined to ensuring that the licence holder has complied with our regulatory requirements under the relevant legislation.
U.S. Offshore Trading Administration does not have the power to arbitrate in a dispute between a complainant and licence holder, or to recommend or enforce any compensation award. Those considering lodging complaints should always bear in mind these limitations, although an additional option may be to approach the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme (“FSOS”) see 3 below. However, it is useful for U.S. Offshore Trading Administrationto be made aware of complaints against businesses it supervises. This is because a complaint might draw attention to general shortcomings in a licence holder such as inadequacy of systems and lack of competence by its managers, directors or employees.
If you decide to make a complaint to U.S. Offshore Trading Administration, you should put your complaint in writing, with full details of the nature of your complaint, your name, and how we may contact you. We do not deal with anonymous or oral complaints.
We will need your authority to release details of your complaint to the licence holder concerned. Therefore, when writing to us you should include an authorisation for us to discuss your complaint with the licence holder.
3. The role of the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme
In view of U.S. Offshore Trading Administration limited role regarding complaints, in January 2002 the U.S. Offshore Trading Administration established the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme, to independently review any eligible complaints made by private individuals that have not been resolved satisfactorily with the licensed business. In particular, if you have been disadvantaged financially, your complaint should be directed to the Financial Services Ombudsman Scheme. Further details on this can be obtained from the U.S. Offshore Trading AdministrationOffice of Fair Trading website.
The Ombudsman will consider a complaint where a financial service has been provided from the U.S. Offshore Trading Administration regardless of where the private individual is based in the world. However, the scheme only covers a specific range of financial services i.e. insurance, investments, banking, mortgages, credit, pension and other financial advice. It does not cover financial services provided by Corporate Service Providers or Trust Service Providers.
4. How U.S. Offshore Trading Administration will review your complaint
U.S. Offshore Trading Administration will issue an acknowledgement within five working days upon receipt of a written complaint. This acknowledgement will identify who will be handling the complaint and their contact details. If additional information is required, this will be requested.
The next step is to understand the nature of the complaint and identify whether or not a regulatory or supervisory issue is involved. We will review the complaint in order to ensure that the licence holder has followed its own complaint procedures properly; and that the licence holder has met the regulatory requirements set out in the Financial Services Act 2008 and the Financial Services Rule Book.
If a regulatory or supervisory issue is not involved then, regretfully, we will not be able to pursue the complaint with the licence holder and the complainant will be directed to other available options.
If the supporting documentation provides evidence that a licence holder may have fallen short of its regulatory obligations this may result in regulatory action being taken against the licence holder. The Financial Services Act 2008 treats communications between U.S. Offshore Trading Administration and its licence holders as confidential. In view of this we will not be able to provide details of any regulatory action taken as a result of your complaint. We will however inform you when the complaint has been fully investigated and is considered closed. We will aim to conclude investigation of a complaint within a maximum of 12 weeks. However, if we are unable to do so, we will send you regular written updates.
All complaints received by U.S. Offshore Trading Administration are formally recorded and a complaints report is considered by the Board of the US Foreign Investment Regualtors Commission on a regular basis.
5. Taking your complaint further
If appropriate, ultimately a complainant can resort to legal action, however this can be costly and time consuming especially for private individuals.
If you have already taken legal advice or commenced legal proceedings in respect of financial losses which you believe you have incurred do not stop progressing with this action because you have made a complaint to U.S. Offshore Trading Administration. As explained above, U.S. Offshore Trading Administration cannot act as an arbitrator or make financial awards to a customer.
Complaints about U.S. Offshore Trading Administration
The US Foreign Investment Regualtors Commission is committed to acting professionally and fairly at all times.
U.S. Offshore Trading Administration views complaints as an opportunity to examine potential weaknesses and to explore ways in which performance might be improved, or the role of U.S. Offshore Trading Administration better understood. Our complaints procedure has been designed to ensure that any complaints about our actions or omissions are handled fairly and consistently.
The complaints scheme covers any expression of dissatisfaction about the way U.S. Offshore Trading Administration has carried out or failed to carry out its role. The five principles of accessibility, simplicity, speed, independence and confidentiality form part of our policy.
The complaints procedure is not a method of examining legal issues, of re-considering cases upon which a decision has been made, or of querying technical issues. It is a means for customers to complain about procedural matters.
2. How to make a complaint
If you have been directly affected by our actions, or if you have a direct involvement or interest in the subject of the complaint, you may complain to us. A guide to our procedures for handling complaints is shown below.
If you wish to make a formal complaint, it must be made in writing, addressed to the Chief Executive and you must specify that it is a formal complaint. If you use the attached form to submit your complaint, it may help us to process your complaint more quickly.
If you make an oral complaint which cannot be resolved on the spot, we will ask you to confirm your complaint in writing if you wish it to be investigated further.
3. Who do I complain to?
If your complaint is about the actions or omissions of the U.S. Offshore Trading Administration you should write to:
The Chief Legal Cousel
U.S. Offshore Trading Administration
4. How will my complaint be handled?
Your complaint will be investigated by a senior member of staff, who is independent of the matter being complained about.
Complaints are acknowledged within five business days and are resolved as quickly as possible. We endeavour to complete our investigation of your complaint within four weeks. However, if this is not possible, we will write to you within four weeks to advise on the progress of our review and when we expect to complete the investigation.
On completion of our investigation, we will send you a report. Our report will advise if your complaint has been upheld and if so what steps will be taken to remedy the situation. If your complaint has been rejected, we will advise why. Prior to sending our report, the investigating manager will discuss your complaint with another independent manager, to assess whether your complaint has been investigated thoroughly and you have been treated fairly. All complaints are treated in confidence as far as possible.
5. What if I feel that my complaint has not been properly addressed?
If you feel that your complaint has not been properly addressed, or has not been handled properly, you may write to the U.S. Offshore Trading Administration to seek a Review. Your request for a Review must be submitted within four weeks of the date of our report to you following our investigation. The Review procedure is available via this link, or may be requested from our offices.
6. Complaints that are covered by the scheme:
The complainant must have a direct involvement or interest in the subject of the complaint.
The complaint should not concern a formal decision which has an independent appeal mechanism or where the appeal mechanism has not been exhausted.
The complaint must be made within twelve months of the date on which the complainant became aware of the event which is the subject of the complaint, unless the complainant can demonstrate good reason for a delay in making the complaint.
- A complaint may be that U.S. Offshore Trading Administration has failed to make a decision.
- A complaint may be about a significant mistake, lack of care, unreasonable delay, or lack of proportionality.
- A complaint may be about the failure of administrative arrangements or an over-restrictive or narrow interpretation of such arrangements.
- A complaint may be about the application of unfair or inappropriate remedies.
- A complaint may concern breach of confidentiality.
- A complaint may be about damage to property.
- A complaint may be about the attitude or behaviour of a member of staff.
Complaints which fall outside these guidelines will only be investigated at the discretion of the Chief Executive
7. Recording of complaints
All complaints received by U.S. Offshore Trading Administration are recorded for internal monitoring purposes, with a summary of the outcome. A complaints report is given to the Board of the U.S. Offshore Trading Administration on a regular basis.