LONDON, July 20 Britain's Serious Fraud Office
is poised to begin its first criminal investigation of alleged
rigging by traders in the foreign exchange market, the Sunday
The SFO, which is already conducting a criminal probe into
the rigging of benchmark interest rate Libor, is expected to
declare the move "within days", the newspaper reported, without
"We are receiving and examining complex data on this topic,"
a spokeswoman for the SFO said in an emailed statement in
response to the report.
"If and when we open a criminal investigation, that decision
will be announced in the usual way."
Allegations of foreign exchange market rigging have also
been under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority, the
UK regulator, since last year. The FCA declined to comment on
the Sunday Times report.
The U.S. Department of Justice opened a criminal probe into
the matter last October.
It is alleged that traders used online chatrooms with names
such as The Bandits Club to collude in the fixing of benchmark
Scrutiny is focused on activity around London's 4 p.m.
currency fix, a 60-second window where key exchange rates are
set. These prices are used as reference rates for trillions of
dollars of investment and trade globally.
Thomson Reuters is one of the two biggest global
currency trading platforms along with ICAP-owned EBS.
The WM/Reuters fix relates to several exchange rates and is
compiled using data from Thomson Reuters and other providers.
They are calculated by WM, a unit of State Street Corp.
Thomson Reuters said in June that it was revising its
foreign exchange rules following consultations with market
participants. Thomson Reuters is the parent
company of Reuters News, which is not involved in the fixing
The Financial Stability Board, the world's top financial
regulator based in Switzerland, last week called for profound
change to how currency benchmarks are set.
London is the hub of the global currency market, accounting
for some 40 percent of the $5.3 trillion average daily volume.
Banks involved in the Libor scandal have so far been forced
to pay billions in fines, with more expected.
(Reporting by Freya Berry; editing by Jane Baird)