China central bank 'looking into' Bloomberg access scandal

BEIJING (AFP) - China's central bank, which manages the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, is looking into a growing scandal over the access journalists at Bloomberg News had to potentially sensitive data, reports said on Wednesday.

The People's Bank of China (PBoC) is the latest major financial organisation to examine the controversy involving the financial news wire, whose terminals are used by officials at many of the world's most important financial institutions and banks.

Bloomberg announced on Friday it was curbing reporter access to certain data on its financial terminals and apologised after reports said its journalists used the devices to access private data of Wall Street banks.

The PBoC "is aware of the situation and is looking into the matter", Dow Jones Newswires cited an unnamed source with knowledge of the bank as saying.

China's central bank oversees the management of the country's US$3.4 trillion (S$4.2 trillion) foreign exchange stockpile and is concerned any leak of its trading activities could shift the market while hurting the bank.

A PBoC spokesman declined to comment to AFP.

The US Federal Reserve said on Monday it had asked Bloomberg News for information on whether its journalists were inappropriately allowed to see client data.

One report said the system allowed access to the accounts of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

The US Treasury Department was "looking into the matter", a source familiar with the matter told AFP in the US.

Institutions in other countries and jurisdictions are also becoming involved.

A spokesman for the South Korea's central bank told AFP its staff used around 40 Bloomberg terminals and it was "closely monitoring" the US Fed investigation.

"We made an inquiry to Bloomberg's Seoul office and were given an explanation that was little more than the public apology put out by the Bloomberg headquarters earlier," the spokesman added.

A spokesman for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority told AFP: "We are aware of the reported incident and we are looking into the matter."

Japan's central bank also said this week that it had contacted the company "to determine the facts".

A rival of Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg was founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is not involved in management due to his political activities.

Bloomberg's website is blocked in China after it reported last year that the family of Mr Xi Jinping, the country's new President, had assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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