Australian watchdog to launch probe into forex markets

SYDNEY, March 19 Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:10am EDT

SYDNEY, March 19 (Reuters) - Australian regulators are launching a review into dealings in the country's foreign exchange market, joining a worldwide push to investigate allegations of price-rigging of global benchmarks by banks and traders.

It is the first time Australian banks have been drawn into price-fixing probes in currencies. The investigations are already underway in Europe and the United States.

"We are aware of the reports of international regulatory enquiries on potential misconduct in other jurisdictions in relation to the FX market," Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) spokesman Andre Khoury told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We will conduct our own enquiries in Australia."

Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the U.S. Department of Justice have been investigating allegations that traders at some of the world's biggest banks manipulated the largely unregulated $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market.

Britain's financial watchdog said it was unlikely to reach any conclusions this year in its probe into potential manipulation of foreign exchange markets.

The Financial Stability Board, which coordinates regulation for the Group of 20 leading economies, is also defining the work it will do on issues around forex benchmarks, it said in January.

Regulators are looking at whether traders at some of the world's biggest banks with advance knowledge of customer orders tried to manipulate benchmark foreign-exchange rates used to set the value of trillions of dollars of investments. (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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