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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that has today fined Christopher Niehaus, a former investment banker, £37,198 for sharing client confidential information over WhatsApp. The FCA found that Mr Niehaus failed to act with due skill, care and diligence.
The FCA found that Mr Niehaus, who was a managing director in the Investment Banking division at Jefferies International Limited, received client confidential information during the course of his employment and, on a number of occasions between 24 January and 16 May 2016, shared that information with both a personal acquaintance and a friend, who was also a client of the firm. In one of the instances where Mr Niehaus shared client confidential information with his friend, who was also a client of the firm, that information was about a competitor. Mr Niehaus used the instant messaging application “WhatsApp” to share this information. The information was shared by Mr Niehaus because he wanted to impress the people that he shared the information with.
The details of the information he shared included the identity of the client, the details relating to the client mandate and the fee Jefferies would charge for their involvement in the transaction. Mr Niehaus also boasted about how he may be able to pay off his mortgage if one of the deals was successful.
Neither Mr Niehaus nor the individuals he shared the information with dealt in any securities relating to these disclosures and it is accepted that this information was not shared by Mr Niehaus with that expectation.
Mr Niehaus was suspended from Jefferies pending the completion of its disciplinary process and he resigned before that process was completed.
Mr Niehaus provided full admissions to the FCA in an early interview and, as a result, he was given a 15% reduction to the financial penalty. Mr Niehaus also agreed to settle during the stage 1 settlement period; but for this, the FCA would have imposed a penalty of £53,140.