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Release Date: 20th March 2014

To access the original FCA document, click here.


Mark Stevenson, a bond trader with almost three decades of experience, has been fined £662,700 and banned from the industry by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for manipulating the price of a UK government bond (gilt) on 10 October 2011. This incident marks the first enforcement action for manipulation in the gilt market.

Stevenson’s manipulation involved his attempt to sell £1.2 billion worth of gilts to the Bank of England at an artificially high price during a period of quantitative easing (QE). He significantly increased his holdings of the specific gilt, leading it to account for 92% of the gilt’s turnover that day. His trading activities were noted within 40 minutes, leading to an unusual market response where the Bank of England chose not to purchase the gilt, a move to mitigate potential adverse effects on the market and prevent taxpayer expense.

The FCA highlighted that Stevenson’s actions were a severe abuse of a system meant to bolster the economy, underlining the lack of regard for the consequences his manipulation could have on other market participants and UK taxpayers. The manipulation significantly altered the price and yield of the bond, which outperformed similar gilts that day due to Stevenson’s activities. By the end of the trading day, however, the gilt’s price had realigned with those of comparable bonds after the Bank of England’s intervention.

The key takeaways for other firms and traders from this case include the critical importance of maintaining market integrity and the severe consequences of attempting to manipulate market prices. The FCA’s decisive action in this case sends a clear message about the importance of fair dealing in financial markets and the severe penalties for those who undermine this through manipulative practices.

Tracey McDermott, the FCA’s director of enforcement, emphasised that fair dealing is crucial for market integrity, and the FCA will rigorously pursue those who try to manipulate the market. This case serves as a stark reminder for firms to ensure they have robust systems in place to prevent such conduct and protect the interests of the broader financial system and its participants.

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