Last updated: November 1, 2013 6:22 pm

Barclays suspends six foreign exchange traders

A man gestures whilst speaking on a mobile telephone at Barclays Bank in the financial district of Canary Wharf in London©Reuters

Barclays is the latest to launch an internal probe into its foreign exchange trading. The bank probes were triggered by requests from regulators for information

Barclays has suspended six traders as part of its internal inquiry into alleged rigging of the foreign exchange market, including its chief currency trader in London, in the latest rate-manipulation scandal to hit the bank.

The six traders, who were suspended within the past 24 hours, are across the bank’s operations and were not solely based in London, two sources familiar with the investigation told the Financial Times. None have been formally accused of wrongdoing.

The suspended individuals include Chris Ashton, who oversees the bank’s voice-spot trading around the world. Mr Ashton was not available for comment. He remains active on the UK financial regulator’s list of authorised individuals.

Jack Murray, based in Tokyo, and Mark Clark, based in London, are also among the six suspensions, the people familiar with the situation said. Mr Murray and Mr Clark could not immediately be reached for comment.

Authorities around the world – including those in Switzerland, the UK and the US Department of Justice – have opened preliminary investigations into whether some of the biggest banks in the world rigged the $5.3tn currency market.

Citigroup and JPMorgan on Friday became the latest banks to confirm they were working with regulators on investigations into foreign exchange trading. UBS, and Deutsche Bank have previously disclosed that regulators have asked them for information and Royal Bank of Scotland, which previously handed over instant-message chats to regulators, has suspended two traders in connection with the inquiry.

They are Julian Munson and Paul Nash, according to people familiar with the investigation. They are both London-based FX spot traders. RBS declined to comment.

UBS has also suspended its global co-head of G10 foreign exchange in London, Niall O’Riordan, according to other people with knowledge of the bank’s action. UBS declined to comment.

Barclays’ suspensions come after Matt Gardiner, a former senior currencies trader at Barclays and UBS, was put on leave by Standard Chartered this week.

At least one Barclays trader has been part of an instant message group with other senior traders at Citi, RBS and possibly other banks that the Financial Conduct Authority is scrutinising, people close to the situation said.

RBS turned over records of this instant message group to the UK regulator last month.

Barclays is one of five institutions to have already settled authorities’ allegations over manipulation of Libor, a key interbank benchmark rate. As well as Libor and foreign exchange, authorities around the world are also examining whether other benchmark rates, including oil-spot markets, have been manipulated.

Barclays declined to comment on the suspensions. It this week disclosed that it had launched an internal investigation into its foreign exchange operations after receiving enquiries from authorities.

It said it was “reviewing its foreign exchange trading covering a several year period through August 2013 and . . . co-operating with the relevant authorities in their investigations”.

The FCA declined to comment beyond stating that it had initiated a preliminary investigation into foreign exchange trading.

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