Banks' senior management not involved in recent rate-rigging saga: Lawrence Wong

SENIOR management of the 20 banks involved in attempts to rig benchmark financial rates here were not aware of their traders' actions.

This was revealed by Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong in Parliament on Tuesday. Mr Wong, a board member of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), was speaking on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in response to questions by several MPs.

Mr Wong said: "While a few line managers were aware... MAS did not find evidence that the banks' senior management were aware of their traders' misconduct."

The senior management of these banks took the MAS review seriously, and cooperated fully, he said.

Mr Wong added that MAS referred five cases of attempted rate rigging to the Commercial Affairs Department. However, there was insufficient evidence to support any prosecution based on existing criminal laws.

Last month, a MAS year-long review revealed 133 traders from 20 banks attempting to rig benchmark rates, including the Singapore interbank offered rate (Sibor) which most home-loan rates are pegged against.

MAS said that while there was no conclusive finding that rates here were successfully manipulated, the traders' conduct showed a lack of professional ethics.

MAS has proposed a new regulatory framework for financial benchmarks, including criminalising attempts to rig these rates and subjecting the setting of several key benchmarks to regulatory oversight.