Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong

Against the SFC

You may file a complaint if you discover improper practices in our operation when working for or being engaged by us, or if you are dissatisfied with the way in which our employees perform their duties. The sub-sections below describe the policies and procedures we adopt in handling these complaints:

 Staff/contractor complaints against the SFC or its employees 

To assist in the reporting of improper practices or misconduct regarding our operations or our employees' work, we put in place the policy on Public Interest Grievances on 1 April 2004. A complaint can be filed by any person in the capacity of an employee, a secondee, an independent consultant or a service contractor/supplier. The policy covers the following aspects:

  • Criminal activity, such as accepting a bribe;
  • Financial or administrative malpractice;
  • Misconduct or improper behaviour;
  • Failure to comply with legal obligations such as those set out in the Securities and Futures Ordinance;
  • Endangering occupational health or safety; and
  • Attempts to suppress or conceal information relating to any of the above.

If you would like to file a complaint or make an enquiry about the policy, please write to our Commission Secretary at the Chief Executive Officer’s Office.

 Public complaint against the SFC or its employees 

Purpose

The SFC is a statutory body and has a policy of transparency and accountability.  It welcomes outside scrutiny and genuine criticism. A high standard of conduct is also expected of its employees. Any failure to observe professional standards of competence and behaviour may damage public confidence in the SFC and its effectiveness as a market regulator.

To ensure prompt handling of complaints from external parties against the SFC or its employees and to facilitate effective follow-up action, a complaints handling procedure (this procedure) has been established as set out below.

What is a complaint?

A complaint is a statement of dissatisfaction regarding the way in which the SFC or its employee(s) has/have carried out or failed to carry out its/their duties, and in the case of an employee, includes any alleged failure to observe professional standards of competence and behaviour. Some complaints are not covered under this procedure, including:-

  • Any complaint about the propriety or appropriateness of administrative or operational decisions made by the SFC or any employee in the course of performing statutory functions that have been delegated to him/her and in respect of which the aggrieved party may appeal to the Securities and Futures Appeals Tribunal or seek a judicial review.
  • Any complaint which is an expression of general dissatisfaction with the SFC's policy in discharge of its statutory functions.
  • Any complaint expressing dissatisfaction with the SFC's decision in respect of any complaint about intermediaries or market activities, but without implications as to the professional standards, competence and behaviour of any employee who recommended or endorsed the decision.
  • Any complaint which is, or has been, the subject of investigation by another public body, e.g. the Ombudsman or the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
  • Any complaint the subject matter of which is a civil dispute between the complainant and the SFC or an employee.

A complaint connected with, or that arises from, any form of continuing action by the Commission will not normally be processed until such action has been concluded. Please note that the complainant does not have to be the subject of such action by the Commission. The processing of the complaint may commence or resume before such action has been concluded if, in the exceptional circumstances of the case, it would not be reasonable to expect the complainant to await the conclusion of such action and such action would not be significantly affected.

Who can complain?

Any person who is directly affected may lodge a complaint. Generally speaking, a person is "directly affected" when the person alleges personal inconvenience, distress or loss as a direct result of the actions or inactions of the SFC or an employee.

How do I make a complaint?

You should make your complaint in writing addressed to the Commission Secretary (or to the Chief Executive Officer if the complaint is about the Commission Secretary), setting out the circumstances of the alleged incident or conduct and the name of the employee about whom you want to complain (if applicable). If you do not make your complaint in writing, we will invite you to lodge the complaint in person at the SFC's office by appointment. We will produce a written summary of the complaint and ask you to certify that it is accurate. Otherwise, your complaint will not be dealt with.

Complaints that are raised anonymously will only be considered at the discretion of the Chief Executive Officer who will take into account the seriousness of the complaint, the credibility of the complainant and the likelihood of confirming the complaint from sources that can be verified. For the purposes of this procedure, a complaint will be handled as if it is an anonymous complaint if the complainant does not provide any contact details.

Is there a time limit for making a complaint?

Complaints will normally only be dealt with if they are lodged within a year of the date on which you become aware of the circumstances of the complaint. Complaints made more than a year later will only be investigated if you can show a reasonable ground for the delay.

How will my complaint be dealt with?

Within 7 working days of receiving your complaint, we will write to you to acknowledge receipt of your complaint and notify you whether or not it can be dealt with under this procedure.

Cases involving professional standards, competence and behaviour of employees

Minor cases:
Cases other than serious cases (e.g. a minor administrative error or inadvertent delay in response) will be referred to the relevant division of the SFC. The relevant division will assess the complaint and may contact you directly to resolve the matter.

Serious cases:
Cases where an employee is alleged to have fallen short of the professional standards, competence and behaviour reasonably expected of a person in such capacity (e.g. misuse of confidential information, intimidation, other issues of personal integrity or misconduct) will be referred to the appropriate person (the Decision Maker) for further consideration. The Decision Maker will be a person who has not been involved in the matter you have complained about and, where practicable, has not had any previous dealings with you.

The Decision Maker will conduct an initial review of the complaint and, within 7 working days after the referral of the complaint, determine the type of investigation that needs to be carried out and who will carry out the investigation (the Investigator) after consulting with the head of the division concerned, unless the complaint is against the head of the division.

The Investigator should not have been involved in the subject matter of the complaint and, where practicable, should not have had previous dealings with you. The Investigator will inform you in writing, as soon as reasonably practicable,  that your complaint is being investigated, who the Decision Maker is, and briefly explain this procedure and invite you to provide any additional information and/or supporting documents in respect of the complaint.

We will inform the employee who is the subject of the complaint in writing of the case against him/her as soon as reasonably practicable and provide him/her with a written copy of the complaint.

The Investigator may in his/her discretion interview you and/or the employee.  If necessary, the Investigator may also interview witnesses (whether or not they are employees).

The Investigator will consider the evidence provided by you, the employee and any witnesses and then prepare a report, including a preliminary conclusion, for consideration by the Decision Maker.

The Decision Maker will consider the investigation report and make a decision regarding the complaint, whether it is substantiated, not substantiated or partially substantiated.

Cases not involving professional standards, competence and behaviour of employees

If a complaint concerns the SFC's generally applicable policies, practices and procedures, is unrelated to an employee's professional standards, competence and behaviour or, when the complaint contains allegations against an employee but it appears from the facts that the relevant employee was performing his/her duties as a SFC employee in accordance with the division's/SFC's policies, practices and procedures, the Commission Secretary will contact the relevant operational division for background information in relation to the complaint and invite the division to respond to the allegations in the complaint.

Why must I have a genuine complaint, and include as much information as possible?

Subject to prior consultation with the Chief Executive Officer, the Commission Secretary may decide not to process a complaint received in the following circumstances (not an exhaustive list):-

(a)  where incomplete or inaccurate contact details have been provided;

(b)  where a complaint is trivial, malicious or frivolous in nature, or appears to have been made in order to be vexatious;

(c)  where a complaint contains insufficient information to enable it to be assessed;

(d)  where there has been undue delay on the part of the complainant in submitting a complaint or in providing any further information reasonably requested by the SFC.

In such cases, the Commission Secretary will explain in writing to the complainant the reason why the complaint is not being dealt with under this procedure.

Where it is found that a complainant's allegations are false or misleading and are made maliciously, frivolously or in order to be vexatious, the SFC reserves the right to take appropriate action.

What happens after the investigation?

Upon conclusion of the assessment or investigation, a final written reply will be issued to you stating our decision, with reasons. Such a decision will be regarded as final in the absence of new material information or evidence.

What is the timeline of a substantive response from the SFC?

For minor cases involving professional standards, competence and behaviour of employees, our aim is to issue a substantive written reply to the complainant within 4 weeks from the date the complaint is received.

For other complaints, our aim is to issue a substantive written reply to the complainant within 12 weeks from the date the complaint is received.

The above is an indicative timeframe and not a commitment, as the processing of a complaint may be subject to various factors, such as the complexity of the complaint and any subsequent communications with the complainant for the purpose of seeking further information or clarification.

What happens if I am not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation?

Our decision is final in the absence of new material information or evidence and cannot be appealed under this procedure. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you may refer the matter to the Ombudsman.

If you persist in pursuing your complaint in the absence of new material information or evidence, we may seek endorsement from our senior management to refrain from entering into any further discussion or correspondence with you about your complaint.

3.3370 s