Hong Kong says looking into forex manipulation allegations

Reuters
A security guard walks past a directory board of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in Hong Kong
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A security guard walks past a directory board of Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in Hong Kong December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

(Reuters) - The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said on Wednesday that it has spoken to foreign regulators about allegations of manipulation in the foreign exchange market and is now speaking to banks about it.

The move comes as authorities in Switzerland and Britain are probing whether traders in the $5 trillion-a-day market sought to manipulate benchmark foreign currency rates.

"The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is aware of the allegations. We have been in communications with the relevant overseas regulators and following up with individual banks," the de facto central bank said in a statement to Reuters.

Switzerland's competition commission WEKO and its financial markets regulator FINMA said earlier this month that they had opened investigations into potential manipulation of foreign exchange markets by banks. They did not name the banks under investigation.

Last week, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters the United States was also involved in the probe.

Until now, no Asian authority has confirmed it is also involved in the investigations.

Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE:RBS) has already handed Britain's financial regulator instant messages sent by a former currency trader to counterparts at other banks, Reuters reported last week.

(Reporting by Rachel Armstrong in SINGAPORE; Editing by John Mair)

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