Date
20 September 2017
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said banks have taken steps to prevent a recurrence of attempts to manipulate benchmark rates. Photo: Reuters
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said banks have taken steps to prevent a recurrence of attempts to manipulate benchmark rates. Photo: Reuters

Singapore returns up to S$12 bln to banks after rate probe

Singapore’s central bank has returned as much as S$12 billion ($9.3 billion) to 19 lenders who were ordered last year to set aside the amount as penalties for trying to rig benchmark interest rates, Bloomberg News reported.

The banks have taken steps to prevent a recurrence of attempts to manipulate the rates, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said in a statement on Friday.

“These banks have completed the remedial actions to strengthen the governance, internal controls and surveillance systems for their benchmark submissions and trading operations,” it said.

UBS AG, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and ING Group NV were among firms asked to post reserves ranging from S$100 million to S$1.2 billion for a year at zero interest in June 2013, the report said.

Singapore launched the investigations last year amid similar reviews conducted by financial regulators worldwide. Barclays Plc, UBS and RBS have paid billions of dollars to settle claims with US and British financial regulators after a scandal erupted over the rigging of the London interbank offered rate.

“The fact that they’ve refunded the penalties implies that there wasn’t a case,” Jim Antos, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd., told Bloomberg.

“This may be the first time in five years or maybe a decade that any regulator has refunded any penalty to any bank globally.”

The monetary authority censured 20 banks whose traders tried to manipulate the Singapore interbank offered rate, swap offered rates and currency benchmarks in the city state, the report said. Commerzbank AG was exempted from setting aside cash.

The banks took disciplinary action against 133 traders found to have tried to rig the rates, with about three-quarters of them having resigned or been asked to leave their firms, according to MAS.

In a review of benchmark rates set from 2007 to 2011, MAS staff went through more than 100 million documents, the central bank said.

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