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Bank of England worker punished in currency case

LONDON — The Bank of England, which is conducting an internal review into whether bank officials were informed about or condoned potential manipulation of the currency markets, said Wednesday it had suspended an employee.

The suspension comes as regulators in Britain, the United States, and other countries are investigating whether traders colluded to manipulate foreign exchange benchmark rates.

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The Bank of England has faced scrutiny in recent weeks over communications between its staff members and traders who were part of an industry committee that discussed issues affecting the currency markets.

Several traders who served on the committee are among more than a dozen traders who have been placed on leave or fired as a result of internal investigations at some of the world’s largest banks, including Citigroup and UBS.

“The Bank of England does not condone any form of market manipulation in any context whatsoever,” the bank said in a statement. “The bank has today reiterated its guidance to staff regarding management of records and escalation of important information.”

The central bank said it had conducted an “extensive review” of documents, e-mails and other records and found no evidence that Bank of England staff members colluded in any way in manipulating the currency market or in sharing of confidential client information.

“The bank requires its staff to follow rigorous internal control processes and has today suspended a member of staff, pending investigation by the bank into compliance with those processes,” the bank said.

The employee was not identified.

The central bank said it had examined about 15,000 e-mails, 21,000 chat room records, and more than 40 hours of recorded telephone calls as part of its internal review.

The Bank of England said Wednesday that its oversight committee would lead an investigation to determine whether bank officials were involved in or knew about attempted or actual manipulation of the currency markets or any other improper behavior in the foreign exchange markets.

The law firm Travers Smith has been appointed as legal counsel to the committee and will prepare a report on the investigation. The report “will be published in due course,” the central bank said.

Many of the world’s largest banks, including JPMorgan Chase, and Barclays, have acknowledged that they are facing regulatory inquiries into potential manipulation of the currency markets.

Deutsche Bank, the largest player in the currency trading market, and Citigroup have both fired employees as a result of their own investigations.

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