UBS faces Hong Kong interest rate probe

Wednesday - 12/19/2012, 11:07pm EST

By KELVIN CHAN
AP Business Writer

HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong financial authorities said Thursday that they are investigating Swiss bank UBS over possible misconduct related to the Asian financial center's benchmark interest rate.

The announcement by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city's de facto central bank, comes a day after UBS agreed to pay $1.5 billion in fines for trying to manipulate a key interest rate affecting borrowers globally.

The HKMA said on its website that it has launched a probe to determine whether there was any wrongdoing by UBS when it submitted information used to set the Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate. It will also try to find out if the misconduct had any "material impact" on setting the rate, known as HIBOR.

The authority said it was tipped off by other regulatory authorities about the possible misconduct involving the rate and other key ones in the region.

UBS said in an email statement that it will "work closely with various regulatory authorities to resolve issues relating to the setting of certain global benchmark interest rates," but would not comment further because it is in "active discussions with these authorities."

On Wednesday, UBS agreed to pay $1.5 billion in fines in a settlement with U.S., British and Swiss regulators. The bank said some of its employees tried to rig the LIBOR rate, short for London Interbank Offered Rate, in several currencies.

LIBOR is set daily using information that banks provide and is used to price trillions of dollars in contracts around the world, including mortgages and credit cards. HIBOR is used mainly by Asian lenders and borrowers.

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Online:

HKMA: www.hkma.gov.hk

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