Irish regulator tells investment firms to better monitor risks posed by working from home

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DUBLIN, Oct 5 (Reuters) – Ireland’s central bank said on Thursday that investment firms and credit institutions engaged in securities markets activity had failed to adequately monitor how staff communicate while working from home, raising the risk of market abuse.

The regulator warned in March of the risk of abuse-related conduct arising from the use of unmonitored, unauthorized or unencrypted telephone and electronic communication devices when employees are working remotely or as part of a hybrid model.

Ireland is a major center for the fund management industry, a regional hub for a number of international banks, and has a domestic financial sector, all of which are regulated by the central bank.

The bank said a recent assessment found that none of the firms included had made amendments to the recording of telephone and electronic policies or procedures despite moving from a largely in-office environment during and after COVID-19 lockdowns.

Monitoring and testing conducted by firms did not meet the central bank’s expectations while the small number of breaches of policies identified by firms indicated that their monitoring is not working effectively, the regulator added.

The assessment did identify that some firms exhibited good practices in ensuring that all telephone and electronic communications are recorded and retention periods are set in accordance with EU requirements.

The central bank said it expected that firms would continue to focus on improving their safeguards and that the assessment results should be brought to the attention of all board members, senior management, and relevant staff by year-end.

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