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  • Deputy Global Head of Litigation & Corporate Risk, and Co-head of the Investigations, Financial Regulation and White Collar practice group.
  • Specialises in complex regulatory issues for financial institutions and individual members of senior management. Nathan conducts internal investigations, represents clients in regulatory investigations by the PRA, FCA, PSR and other enforcement agencies, and defends enforcement proceedings and related litigation.
  • Clients include investment and retail banks, investment firms, broker dealers, commodity trading firms, insurers and insurance intermediaries, and Full List and AIM listed companies.
  • Frequently acts for firms in responding to Section 166 FSMA skilled person reviews, thematic reviews and regulator risk assessments.
  • Recent matters handled by Nathan include enforcement investigations into AML controls, FX manipulation, breaches of the Short Selling Regulation, systems for the protection of confidential information, Chinese walls and operation of the control room, interest rate hedging product mis-selling, manipulation of inter-bank offering rates and related benchmarks, anti-bribery procedures, insider dealing, market abuse surveillance, transaction reporting, anti-fraud systems and controls, product governance, group decision-making and compliance with the senior managers’ regime.
  • “Team head Nathan Willmott is an 'excellent lawyer' and has vast experience at handling regulatory investigations and enforcement actions both from a purely domestic as well as cross-border perspective.” (Legal 500 UK, 2019)
  • "Described by one client as ‘one of the best financial services litigators around’, team head Nathan Willmott provides ‘tactically excellent, commercial and responsive’ advice." (Legal 500, 2017)
  • A Solicitor Advocate holding full Higher Rights of Audience in the Civil Courts.
  • Personally ranked in Tier One by Chambers UK 2018 for Financial Services: Contentious Regulatory, and as a Leading Individual by Legal 500 UK 2019 for Financial Services.
  • Member of the Financial Services Lawyers Association.
  • Nathan is a contributing author to Financial Regulation: Emerging Themes in 2020 – an extensive collection of articles around the themes of supervision, governance, financial crime and investigations and digital.

Q & A

How do you deal with international investigations?

For investigations involving US regulatory or criminal authorities, we work closely with our US colleagues to ensure that our clients receive tailored advice to achieve the best outcome available. Similarly in Asia, the Middle East and Europe we work with our colleagues who have relevant local expertise, and with other specialist lawyers within our international network of Preferred Firms.

What approach do you use in dealing with regulators conducting an investigation?

Whenever appropriate to meet the objectives of our client, we adopt an approach of 'constructive engagement' with the regulators. We seek to ensure we have a close understanding of the regulators’ concerns, and then address each of those concerns using cogent evidence and first principle arguments. In the right cases, identifying the key evidence and bringing it to the attention of the investigators, with a clear articulation of what that evidence means, puts the investigators in a position where they are able to reach an early view and discontinue their investigation. We have used this approach successfully in a range of investigations against institutions and members of senior management.

What’s different about the firm's regulatory practice?

Key to advising clients effectively is having a deep knowledge of how the regulators make their decisions, their current priorities and personnel, the client’s products and services that are subject to scrutiny, and the underlying legal and regulatory regime. To develop these insights, many of our Financial Regulation Group have spent time on secondment at the FCA (and previously the FSA), the PRA, and at major financial institutions. As a result we are excellently placed to design and implement a tailored strategy for our clients to achieve their objectives in relation to the investigation. We never take our client’s objectives for granted, as every investigation is unique.

What do financial services businesses need to look out for in the next 2-3 years?

In addition to handling the complex practical issues that arise from the UK's secession from the European Union, firms need to be aware of the FCA's new approach to regulatory enforcement. Senior management and other employees need to be well trained and conversed in how to ensure that they take (and are seen to be taking) appropriate actions to ensure that risks are managed effectively within the area of the business for which they have regulatory responsibility. This is an area in which we spend a lot of time working alongside our clients to help them get this right.


Representative Experience

  • Multi-jurisdictional Investigations - Advised a leading US investment bank on multi-jurisdictional investigations into suspected industry-wide manipulation of foreign exchange benchmark rates and related misuse of confidential information. The relevant regulators took no action against our client.
  • Governance Arrangements - Advised a US-headquartered insurer on managing a major skilled person review of the governance arrangements in place at its UK subsidiary, examining issues such as Board effectiveness, extent of influence from the US parent, oversight of European branch operations and potential management stretch. The client implemented the limited recommendations and no further action was required.
  • Investigation - Advised the Chairman of a major global bank on PRA enforcement proceedings relating to strategic and risk management issues at the institution.
  • Whistleblowing Investigations - Advised banks and other institutions on the investigation and resolution of a wide variety of issues raised by whistleblowers, including managing the legal and regulatory issues raised by the whistleblower's actions.
  • Listed Companies - Advised a range of listed companies on investigations and enforcement actions, into suspected breaches of the Disclosure Transparency Rules and the AIM Rules for Companies.
  • Mis-selling of General Insurance - Advised a European insurance group on enforcement proceedings relating to mis-selling of general insurance products across a range of European jurisdictions, including complex issues relating to the scope of the FCA’s jurisdiction and the extent of the insurer’s duties of oversight of third party intermediaries.
  • Market Abuse Surveillance - Advised a leading financial services intermediary on an FCA Enforcement investigation into potential failings in it's monitoring and surveillance of trading and orders, for the purpose of identifying suspected market abuse.