RBS reviews FX practices, Barclays flags probe

Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:07am EDT
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By Jamie McGeever and Matt Scuffham

LONDON (Reuters) - Fallout from global investigations into possible manipulation of the $5.3 trillion-a-day forex market spread on Wednesday, as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L: Quote) said it had sought to reassure clients about rates they were offered while Barclays (BARC.L: Quote) said it was cooperating with regulators.

Benchmark foreign exchange rates, often referred to as fixes, are a cornerstone of global financial markets, used to price trillions of dollars worth of investments and deals and relied upon by companies, investors and central banks.

Regulators in the United States, Asia and Europe are investigating possible manipulation of these benchmarks and RBS confirmed on Wednesday it had emailed clients last week to tell them it was reviewing how it trades foreign exchange in the minutes before rates are set.

"We are currently considering processes around the benchmark service. The email does not reflect final policy and we are clarifying this with our clients," RBS said.

Barclays, meanwhile, said it was reviewing records from its FX trading business going back several years as part of the international probe.

UBS UBSN.VX and Deutsche (DBKGn.DE: Quote) also said this week they were cooperating with authorities.

According to a Bloomberg report, RBS had emailed customers to reassure them that RBS traders would not share details of their FX orders with traders at other banks and would not use knowledge of such orders to make bets for themselves.

In echoes of the global probe into the manipulation of benchmark interest rates, authorities are investigating whether traders at investment banks colluded with counterparts at other banks to try and rig FX rates, tipping each other off about their positions to try and influence the rate set.   Continued...

A woman is seen through scaffolding as she walks past a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland in London September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth