Largest financial crime related fine imposed by regulator

See also: Aon speaks out over fine

Aon has been fined £5.25m by the FSA for failing to take reasonable care to establish and maintain effective systems and controls to counter the risks of bribery and corruption associated with making payments to overseas firms and individuals.

Between 14 January 2005 and 30 September 2007, Aon failed properly to assess the risks involved in its dealings with overseas firms and individuals who helped it win business and failed to implement effective controls to mitigate those risks.

As a result of Aon's weak control environment, the firm made various suspicious payments, amounting to approximately US$7 million, to a number of overseas firms and individuals, the FSA said.

Margaret Cole, director of enforcement at the regulator, said: “This is the largest financial crime related fine imposed by the FSA to date. It sends a clear message to the UK financial services industry that it is completely unacceptable for firms to conduct business overseas without having in place appropriate anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls.

“The involvement of UK financial institutions in corrupt or potentially corrupt practices overseas undermines the integrity of the UK financial services sector. The FSA has an important role to play in the steps being taken by the UK to combat overseas bribery and corruption. We have worked closely with other law enforcement agencies in this case and will continue to take robust action focused on firms’ systems and controls in this area.”

Aon cooperated fully with the FSA and agreed to settle at an early stage of the FSA’s investigation. The firm qualified for a 30% discount under the FSA’s settlement discount scheme. Without the discount the fine would have been £7.5 million.

The FSA said that since the discovery of its failings in 2007, Aon and its current senior management had demonstrated that they treated this matter with the utmost seriousness. "The FSA considers that the pro-active determination of Aon’s current senior management to identify past issues and improve the firm’s systems and controls in this area is a model of best practice that other firms may wish to adopt."