LONDON, March 11 British oil company BP
said none of its currency traders had engaged in inappropriate
trading activity, after a media report alleged one of them had
received information from a dealer at Lloyds Banking Group
Allegations of possible manipulation of the $5.3
trillion-a-day foreign exchange market have so far centered on
Financial regulators and monetary authorities around the
world are looking into allegations that traders colluded to
manipulate benchmark exchange rates, a cornerstone of global
markets that are used as reference rates by companies, investors
and central banks.
Bloomberg News reported earlier on Tuesday that Martin
Chantree, a senior foreign exchange dealer at Lloyds, shared
information with a forex trader at BP on Jan. 31 2013 about an
impending order from a client to sell 300 million pounds for
Chantree has been suspended from the partly state-owned
bank, Reuters reported on Feb. 4.
Chantree, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing by
authorities, did not respond to messages Reuters left at a phone
number listed in his name and sent via LinkedIn on Tuesday.
Many people active in the foreign exchange markets say that
sharing information with other players is a vital element that
allows banks and others to manage the risk they take on when
agreeing to fulfill orders for clients and their own needs.
Indeed, industry body the ACI says that banks must be
allowed to share details of their overall position with others,
but differentiate between that and either cartel-like collusion
to move the market or the breaking of confidentiality agreements
with particular clients by sharing details of their orders, both
of which go against the ACI code of conduct.
BP, Europe's second-biggest oil company by stock market
value, denied any wrongdoing.
"We carried out a detailed investigation into this
allegation, including examining communication on messaging
systems and phone, and trading activity," a BP spokesman said.
"Based on this detailed investigation, we strongly refute
any suggestion that any BP FX traders engaged in inappropriate
trading activity in this market. BP's trading activity in the
market was fully compliant and in line with regulations, BP's
code of conduct and BP's trading-specific requirements," the
Major commodity producers, such as oil companies and miners,
need to be involved in foreign exchange markets to hedge risks
associated with producing in one currency and selling in others.
BP employs four traders who buy and sell currencies for this
reason as well as trading to enhance profits from its main oil
and gas business.
British bank Lloyds said it was investigating the matter.
"We take individual allegations of this nature very seriously
and we immediately launched an investigation into the specific
allegations raised," a Lloyds spokesman said.
"The investigation is ongoing and at this stage it would be
inappropriate to speculate on its outcome."
A spokesman for Britain's Financial Conduct Authority, which
is investigating allegations of collusion between traders at
banks to manipulate key exchange rates, said it was too early to
say whether there would be any regulatory probe of BP.
More than 20 traders at several of the world's biggest banks
have so far been placed on leave, suspended or fired as a result
of the various probes. Last week, the Bank of England suspended
an employee as part of its internal investigation.
No-one has been charged with wrongdoing by authorities.