By Rachel Armstrong and Kevin Lim
SINGAPORE Oct 24 Singapore's central bank said
it was ready to assist in investigations into alleged
manipulation of foreign exchange rates, potentially widening a
probe in the $5.3 trillion-a-day FX market that already involves
authorities in the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Hong
The announcement by the Southeast Asian city-state, the
world's third-largest FX trading centre after London and New
York, comes just a week after Hong Kong said it was talking to
foreign regulators and banks about the market rigging
"MAS has been in touch with foreign regulators on the issue
of alleged manipulation in the WM/Reuters foreign exchange
benchmark rates. We stand ready to assist in their
investigations," the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said
in a statement on Thursday.
In echoes of the global probe into interest rate rigging,
authorities are examining electronic messages between currency
traders to see whether they colluded with counterparts.
Several media reports have suggested that traders
manipulated the fixings - snapshots of where currencies are
trading at a particular time in the market - which are used to
price trillions of dollars worth of investments.
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said last week
it had progressed from asking banks for information relating to
FX trading to opening a formal probe, and is working with
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority was the first regulator in
Asia to confirm its involvement in the probe, saying last week
it had spoken to foreign regulators about the issue and was
following up with individual banks. Hong Kong is Asia's
third-largest FX trading centre after Singapore and Tokyo.
Switzerland's financial markets regulator FINMA said earlier
this month it was investigating several Swiss banks. FINMA did
not name the banks under scrutiny, but said multiple banks
around the world were potentially implicated.
The chairman of Credit Suisse, Switzerland's
second-largest bank, told a local newspaper this month that it
had not found any evidence of malpractice in the FX market
following inquiries from regulators.
Investment banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland
and Deutsche Bank, have handed over instant messages
and emails to the FCA in Britain as part of its probe, banking
sources have said.
In Singapore, the MAS censured 20 banks, including UBS
, RBS and ING, in June following a review into
the setting of benchmark rates, and ordered them to set aside
additional reserves for a year.
The WM/Reuters FX rates, compiled using data from Thomson
Reuters and other providers, are calculated by WM, a unit of
State Street Corp. The rates are one of several
benchmarks used throughout the course of the global trading
session in the major FX centres of London, New York and Tokyo.
In a response to Reuters queries, Thomson Reuters said "WM
... is the administrator for the WM/Reuters Service. Through an
agreement, Thomson Reuters is a primary source of rates to WM
from which WM applies its methodology and calculates the
benchmark. Thomson Reuters is one of the various distributors of
"Thomson Reuters would lend its expertise to support any
authorities' investigation into alleged disruptive behaviour on
In a statement earlier this month, State Street said "WM
supports efforts by the industry to determine and address any
alleged disruptive behaviour by market participants. We welcome
further discussions on these issues and what preventative
measures can be adopted."
Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters
News, which is not involved in the rate fixing process.