UBS facing new Hong Kong rate fiddling probe

Tim Wallace
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SWISS bank UBS is now facing an investigation from the authorities in Hong Kong, just a day after it settled major interest rate-fixing charges with regulators in the UK and the US.

The bank was fined £940m this week, after regulators found evidence that key interbank interest rates were being fixed by the bank’s staff, while corrupt payments were made to other banks and brokerages to help them manipulate the market.

UBS acted quickly to settle the charges, gaining a 20 per cent discount from the British Financial Services Authority (FSA), as chief executive Sergio Ermotti wanted to put the scandal behind the bank.

But instead of moving on from the crisis, the bank was yesterday hit by a new investigation.

“The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has received information from overseas regulatory authorities about possible misconduct by UBS involving submissions for the Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate (Hibor) and other reference rates in this region,” the HKMA announced in a statement. “The HKMA has commenced an investigation with a view to ascertaining any misconduct committed by the bank in relation to Hibor submissions, and assessing whether the misconduct, if substantiated, has any material impact on the Hibor fixing results.”

The UK and US authorities only looked for and revealed information on wrongdoing in their own jurisdictions – for example, some Japanese yen Libor manipulation was carried out by London-based staff, though they also found malpractice in Tokyo, Zurich and the US.

UBS was unavailable for comment.