Singapore censures banks for rate rigging

HSBC and StanChart among lenders told to post reserves; errant traders punished

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 2013, 3:59am

The Monetary Authority of Singapore censured banks for trying to rig benchmark interest rates and ordered them to set aside about S$12 billion (HK$74.4 billion) at zero interest pending measures to improve internal controls.

HSBC, Standard Chartered, JP Morgan Chase, Barclays and DBS were among 20 banks at which 133 traders tried to manipulate the Singapore interbank offered rate (Sibor), swap offered rates and currency benchmarks in the city state, MAS said in a statement yesterday.

The regulator said it would make rigging key rates a criminal offence and bring supervision under its oversight.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said last night it had "taken note" of the MAS statement and had been maintaining close contact with the authority and HSBC on the regulator's review relating to HSBC Singapore. "As home regulator of HSBC in Hong Kong, the HKMA has asked HSBC to promptly implement remedial measures and actions as required by the MAS," it said.

The crackdown in Singapore comes amid a widening global review of benchmark rates. Barclays, UBS and Royal Bank of Scotland have paid US$2.5 billion over the past year to settle claims with US and British financial regulators on rigging Libor, the London equivalent of Sibor.

Nineteen firms were asked to post reserves ranging from S$100 million to S$1.2 billion for a year and will not earn interest on that money.

The banks have taken disciplinary action against the 133 errant traders.