Exclusive: Libor Bosses To Require FSA Nod
The managers of traders who set Libor and other benchmark interest rates will have to be formally authorised by financial regulators and subjected to tough new sanctions for malpractice, according to a Government-commissioned review of the rate-rigging scandal.
I can reveal that Martin Wheatley, whose three-month probe into the Libor-setting framework will be published on Friday, is to order urgent reform that will involve the Financial Services Authority (FSA) approving hundreds of City executives to undertake their work.
The recommendation will be one of dozens outlined in Mr Wheatley's report, which comes as regulators around the world continue to investigate some of the world's largest banks for their roles in one of its biggest-ever trading scandals.
I also understand that Mr Wheatley will outline a series of tough new sanctions for those found guilty of attempting to manipulate benchmark interest rates, and that the Libor name and framework will not be scrapped, as some had suggested.
The requirement for managers of Libor-setters to be formally authorised by the FSA and its successor body is designed to underline the need for accountability in the rate-setting process. Mr Wheatley is understood to have held discussions about the reform with a number of other regulators around the world.
The fact that so many senior financiers have not required formal regulatory approval until now underlines the laxity of the regulatory oversight of those involved in setting what has been widely-dubbed "the world's most important number". Libor is used as a reference point for hundreds of trillions of pounds of financial contracts around the world.
Mr Wheatley's inquiry was commissioned by the Chancellor, George Osborne, in July, in the wake of Barclays £290m fine for rate-fixing. Treasury insiders say that the Government will give its backing to implementing the recommendations of the report as soon as possible.
The British Bankers' Association (BBA) is to surrender its 26-year role in sponsoring the Libor-setting process, and Mr Wheatley will outline the replacement framework tomorrow.
In its submission to Mr Wheatley's review, a copy of which was leaked to Sky News yesterday, the BBA suggested shrinking the number of currencies which participate in Libor, and migrating over time to a transaction-based system.
It also recommended new powers to fine, censure and ban those found guilty of attempting to manipulate benchmark interest rates, a proposal that Mr Wheatley is expected to endorse tomorrow.
The FSA declined to comment.