Deutsche Bank chief says change needed on FX fixings

FRANKFURT Wed Jan 29, 2014 2:10pm EST

FRANKFURT Jan 29 (Reuters) - The way daily currency benchmarks are set in the $5-trillion-a-day market needs to be looked at but limiting trade at daily fixings is not the answer, Deutsche Bank chairman Paul Achleitner said on Wednesday.

Banks, worried over legal fallout from allegations that traders may have used client order information improperly, have said little publicly on the options for rebuilding confidence in the way the currency benchmarks are set.

Royal Bank of Scotland, however, told customers on Tuesday it would stop accepting client orders for some currency fixings and there have been other tentative signs of the start of a shift in market practices and trading patterns.

Deutsche is the world's biggest currency trader. Asked whether it would also curb its fixing offerings, Achleitner, who chairs the bank's supervisory board, said: "It's not a question of the submission or the contribution of the bank to such a fixing but they are being evaluated on the basis of trade flows.

"So, stopping trade shortly before five and shortly after five (around the fixing time) would not be the answer. You have to have well-controlled processes and make sure they exist in these windows," he told a conference.

"Still the question remains where we want to participate in terms of submission and we will review this on a continuous basis," Achleitner added.

Regulators and investors have grown increasingly concerned about the integrity of financial benchmarks in the wake of the Libor interest rate rigging scandal.

RBS told clients it would stop accepting orders for a number of currency fixings, citing an internal review and declining comment on any link to the global inquiry.

RBS will drop such services around all but the main U.S. and European daily market fixings and a handful of those in major emerging markets, and it said that was aimed at balancing the needs of the bank and its customers.

Benchmark foreign exchange rates, or daily fixings, are a cornerstone of global financial markets, used to price trillions of dollars worth of investments and deals and relied upon by companies, investors and central banks.

The market is the biggest in the financial system and one of the least regulated, with most trading taking place away from exchanges. Companies need foreign exchange benchmark rates to value currency holdings at a uniform rate.

Banks traditionally accept foreign exchange orders from clients ahead of the fixings and investigators are seeking to establish whether traders shared market-sensitive information with other banks to try and rig FX rates, tipping each other off about their positions to try and influence the rate set.

The probes have resulted in the firing or suspension of several traders at major banks. Deutsche itself suspended traders in New York earlier this month.

Reuters reported last week that representatives from Germany's financial watchdog Bafin were to visit the London offices of Deutsche.