UK SFO launches criminal investigation into FX rigging


The UK’s Serious Fraud Office confirmed on Monday that it is launching a criminal investigation into the alleged rigging of the foreign exchange (FX ) market.

The agency said in a statement: “The Director of the Serious Fraud Office has today opened a criminal investigation into allegations of fraudulent conduct in the foreign exchange market.”

Approximately 15 authorities worldwide are now investigating allegations of collusion and price manipulation in the $5.3 trillion-a-day currency market.

There are accusations that traders colluded in the fixing of benchmark prices using online chatrooms. Particular focus for the investigation rests on activity surrounding London’s 4pm foreign exchange fix – a 1 minute window when key exchange rates are set. These are then used as pricing references for trillions of dollars of global investment and trade.

The UK’s financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, launched its own investigation last October, while the Bank of England appointed barrister Anthony Grabiner in March to examine whether any of its officials were involved in FX rigging. The US Department of Justice also opened a criminal probe into the matter last October.

Banks including Deutsche Bank, Lloyds, Citigroup, Barclays and JP Morgan Chase have fired or suspended (and in some cases reinstated) FX traders in relation to rigging allegations.