On 12 December 2019, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published a review report on how national competent authorities (NCAs) handle suspicious transactions and order reports (STOR) under the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR).
Persons professionally arranging or executing transactions, investment firms and trading venues need to report STORs to their NCA, so those authorities can analyse suspicious behaviours and investigate possible cases of insider dealing or market manipulation. Hence, STORs help to preserve market integrity while enhancing investor protection and market confidence.
ESMA’s review assessed all 31 NCAs in six areas to evaluate the effectiveness of their STOR supervision. Overall, ESMA found that NCAs are performing well in the analysis of suspected market abuse reported in STORs which has been facilitated by close cooperation and sharing of practices amongst NCAs.
Overall, six NCAs were assessed as fully complying in at least four of the six assessment areas (Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom).
In the areas identified for improvements:
- 11 NCAs were assessed as partially-compliant (Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg) or non-compliant (Cyprus, Norway and Romania) in their supervision of the STOR requirements by certain financial players
- 13 NCAs were assessed as partially compliant (Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) or non-compliant (Cyprus and Liechtenstein) in their response to poor-quality or suspected non-reporting of STORs and associated enforcement actions
In all cases of less than full compliance, ESMA identifies tailor-made improvements for each NCA.
As part of the supervisory approach, it is expected that NCAs engage with Reporting Persons to ensure the reporting requirements are embedded in their processes and that Reporting Persons understand the importance of submitting complete and meaningful STORs in a timely manner.
“We as European regulators need to make further progress in ensuring firms’ compliance and in challenging poor-quality reporting,” ESMA Chair Steven Maijoor said in a statement.
Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) issued a statement on the outcome of the review report, disagreeing with some of the findings and assessments made, explaining in detail their view on the subject. The Statement can be found at the final pages of ESMA’s Final Report.
The ESMA’s STOR Final Report can be found here.
ESMA’s press release can be found here.