The Central Bank of Ireland has identified compliance with market abuse obligations as a repeated area of focus for 2021 in its Securities Markets Risk Outlook Report published this month.
The designation comes following an industry-wide thematic review of market abuse conducted by the Central Bank during 2020. As part of the thematic review, the Central Bank examined compliance by issuers listed on Euronext Dublin with various market abuse requirements (including requirements to recognise, manage and publicly disclose inside information) as well as carrying out a separate supervisory review on the practice and governance of detecting and reporting suspected market abuse by regulated market operators and investment firms.
In its Securities Markets Risk Outlook Report for 2021, the Central Bank indicates that it expects to complete and announce the results of the 2020 thematic review of market abuse during 2021 and take "appropriate actions" on foot of its findings. As yet, there is no indication of what these actions will be.
The Securities Markets Risk Outlook Report also reiterates the Central Bank's expectations that issuers should:
- have specific measures in place to ensure timely disclosure of inside information to the market (including, in particular, information relevant to COVID-19, Brexit and other related developments); and
- ensure they have clear policies on how inside information is controlled and handled and that these policies are followed in practice.
Pending announcement of the outcome of the thematic review, issuers are advised to continue to focus on the following areas in the context of market abuse:
- review and update their internal market abuse policies and procedures, ensuring that any "gaps" identified as part of the thematic review are filled;
- ensure that policies are followed in practice and that procedures are documented (including any new or updated policies/procedures adopted following the thematic review);
- ensure robust and documented decision-making in connection with all aspects of market abuse compliance, and in particular in relation to decisions relating to the identification and disclosure of inside information.
Further information is available from your usual Arthur Cox contact.
As we press ahead with our supervisory work programme for 2021, we will be challenging those we regulate on these expectations. We will take appropriate supervisory action in circumstances where firms have failed to have regard to the risks outlined in this report or where we identify behaviours that fall below our expectations.