Since 2014, the Financial Public Prosecutor (Parquet National Financier) has held exclusive jurisdiction over criminal investigations and prosecution of insider trading and market abuse offenses.
The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) regulates participants and products in French financial markets. It regulates, authorizes, monitors, and, where necessary conducts investigations and administrative prosecutions.
The AMF Secretary General takes the decision to open an investigation, based on observations gathered during market supervision, monitoring of listed companies, information sent to the AMF or at the request of foreign authorities.
After it has reviewed the investigation report, the AMF Board, its prosecuting authority, decides what action to take, which may include one or more of the following:
- serving a statement of objections on the defendant and beginning proceedings;
- serving a statement of objections on the defendant and proposing a settlement;
- passing the case to the Public Prosecutor if the evidence in the report points to a criminal offense;
- forwarding the case to other French or foreign administrative authorities if the report points to matters within their jurisdiction;
- sending a letter of observations to individuals under investigation to remind them of current regulations;
- closing the case.
The AMF’s Enforcement Committee can only become involved once the Board has decided to initiate proceedings, following a review of investigation reports. The Enforcement Committee, consisting of judges and professionals, is fully independent from the Board when making decisions.
After the AMF Board has served a statement of objections on the individual whose conduct is in question, the Enforcement Committee’s rapporteur will examine the case and may interview the defendant or anyone else it is deemed necessary. If the rapporteur considers that there are additional grounds for complaint or that the charges concern individuals other than the defendant, they may refer this matter to the Board. The rapporteur will draw up a report on their findings.
Enforcement Committee hearings are adversarial in nature and open to the public unless decided otherwise for the sake of public order, national security or if the hearing would compromise business secrecy or any other legally protected secret.
When the Enforcement Committee rules on a case, decisions are are reached by majority vote. The Enforcement Committee makes a reasoned decision, setting out the factual and legal grounds on which the ruling is based.
The Enforcement Committee’s decisions are subject to appeal by the defendant or by the AMF Chairman, after agreement from the Board, within a two months from the date of judgment.
Appeals are heard by:
- the Paris Court of Appeals, in cases of market abuse; or
- the Conseil d’Etat, in cases involving professionals, ISPs, direct marketers, FIAs, depositories and members of regulated markets.