London gold fix company appoints committee to oversee benchmark

Fri Jul 25, 2014 6:40am EDT

* Gold fix company to detail new code of conduct

* New administrator, chairperson sought for gold fix

* RFP process unlikely to be launched before new silver fix starts

By Clara Denina

LONDON, July 25 (Reuters) - The company operating the gold price 'fix' has appointed a supervisory committee to oversee the century-old system of benchmarking gold prices ahead of the implementation of stricter regulations, its website showed on Friday.

The London Gold Market Fixing Ltd's new board is made up of compliance officers at the four banks that currently set the twice-daily auction process over the telephone.

The appointment of the committee comes after the company said this month it was seeking a third party to take over administration of the process.

Other changes, which will include a new code of conduct for participants and the appointment of an independent chairperson, are widely seen as the first steps toward a move to an electronic platform which will broadcast it to a wider audience.

A similar process to find a new price benchmark administrator recently took place in the silver market. That yielded an electronic auction mechanism to replace a daily conference call with just three banks.

The gold fixing company said it would launch a request for proposal (RFP) process to find the new administrator for the benchmark. Two sources close to the matter said that this is unlikely to start before market participants see the new silver process get under way from August 15.

Bank of Nova Scotia, HSBC, Societe Generale, and Barclays operate the gold fixing, while Deutsche Bank stopped in May after two decades.

The new committee will promote the implementation of a code of conduct and will devise a process for reviewing the conduct of the fixing by including post review of the recordings and scrutiny of the submission process, the company said on its website.

It will also be responsible for assessing any potential conflict of interest or complaints about the fixing process.

SCRUTINY INCREASES

Regulators across Europe and the United States have scrutinised financial benchmarking processes following the Libor manipulation case in 2012 and firms have been fined billions of dollars.

Although market participants view many aspects of the existing gold process favourably, reforms still need to comply with the 19 principles on financial benchmarks outlined in July 2013 by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), an umbrella group of market regulators.

The first phase of the IOSCO principles, which all benchmarks should follow, ends in July.

IOSCO has six months to decide if any further action is appropriate, based on the take-up of the benchmark administrators to these principles, the regulator said.

The new committee will recommend reviews of the gold fixing process to make sure it is compliant with the IOSCO principles, it said.

The London Gold Market Fixing Ltd was founded in 1994 but only since 2011 have organisations wishing to reproduce or utilise gold fixing data been required to purchase a licence from the company. (Editing by Susan Thomas and Jason Neely)