How London's gold and silver prices are "Fixed"

Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:39pm EDT
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* Market benchmarks being reviewed in wake of Libor affair

* Five banks take part in twice-daily pricing process for gold

* CFTC looked into complaints on the silver market in 2008

By Veronica Brown

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - London's gold and silver markets face the possibility of a probe into price setting, putting a century-old practice under the spotlight after the Libor rigging scandal that exposed widespread interest rate manipulation by banks.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has started internal discussions on whether the daily setting of gold and silver prices is open to manipulation, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The CFTC declined to comment, while the chairs of the London Gold Fixing Company and London Silver Fixing Company were not available for comment.

CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton, attending the annual Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida, declined to specifically address the report, saying: "Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks - many other benchmarks - are legit areas of inquiry."

Britain's Financial Services Authority (FSA) also declined to comment on whether it was looking into gold and silver price setting, but said on Thursday it is feeding into a wider review of price benchmarks run by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) - a global umbrella group for markets regulators.   Continued...