Tuesday, 7 May 2013

How Singapore's currency club fell apart

Article on the website from The Star, written by Reuters. Some snippets:

Mukesh Kumar Chhaganlal said he tried to warn his manager at UBS AG about the "increasingly unrealistic" currency rates being set last year for the Indonesian rupiah against the dollar.

Mukesh's battle with the Swiss bank is part of a broader story about how a clubby, foreign exchange trading community was torn apart in a rate-fixing manipulation probe in Southeast Asia's financial hub.

Singapore's NDF market increasingly rankled central banks in the region, who loathed the idea that a handful of foreign bankers could undermine their exchange rate regimes by creating alternative offshore markets.

Reuters revealed in January those reviews had found evidence in electronic messaging conversations that traders from different banks were colluding with each other to set NDF rates to benefit their trading books rather than reflecting market conditions.

People with direct knowledge of the matter say that process has led to the decimation of a once robust community of NDF and interest rate traders. At least 50 were suspended by their banks at one point - around half the Singapore market - though some have since been allowed to return to work, they said. The rest were fired or left voluntarily.

For more than a decade, many of these traders, operating with scant oversight or regulation, tried to help each other make money by manipulating the currency rates submitted to a Singapore bank panel, according to interviews with participants.

"The NDF market grew very quickly," a former trader said. "Guys became head of desk when they were still pretty young." As volumes grew, so did compensation, as traders were typically allowed to keep a percentage of their gains as an annual bonus.

"It was like a rigged dice game, where the traders were changing the numbers on the dice when no-one was looking," said a former foreign exchange dealer.

I wrote before about the shocking behaviour of banks relating to the LIBOR scandal.

1 comment:

  1. Honestly I find it very hard to give any judgements on this case without knowing all the facts, as what has been written so far is all very unclear.

    The opening paragraph did get my attention though, as I do have some investments in Indonesia. What was Mukesh Kumar Chhaganlal actually trying to say? The Indonesian Rupiah was valued too high? Too low?