Lloyds suspends FX trader as investigation deepens

Pedestrians walk past a branch of Lloyds Bank in the City of London November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - Lloyds Banking Group LLOY.L has suspended one of its foreign exchange traders after an internal investigation into allegations of currency manipulation, a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The suspension of Martin Chantree marks the first time the partly state-owned British bank has been linked with alleged currency manipulation, although the source said he had not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Allegations of manipulation in forex rates are the subject of investigations by authorities around the world, dragging in many of the world's biggest banks and currency market participants, including UBS UBSN.VX, Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE, JP Morgan JPM.N and Citigroup C.N, where traders have either been suspended, put on leave or fired.

Lloyds declined to comment and Chantree couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Last year, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority began a formal investigation into possible manipulation in the $5.3 trillion (3.25 trillion pounds)-a-day global FX market. The U.S. Justice Department is also engaged in an investigation of possible manipulation of the market, the world’s largest.

Benchmark foreign exchange rates, often referred to as fixes, 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.

Earlier on Tuesday, FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley said its investigations were unlikely to yield any results this year.

Editing by Mike Dolan and David Holmes