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Bank of England candidate feels heat from bitcoin's red-hot rally

Wed, 13th Jan 2021 17:49

By Huw Jones

LONDON, Jan 13 (Reuters) - A candidate for the Bank of
England's supervisory arm for banks defended on Wednesday his
senior role on a bitcoin trading platform, saying it took
safeguards against money-laundering very seriously.

Antony Jenkins told parliament's Treasury Select Committee
that being on the board of Blockchain is a significant
responsibility.

The former CEO of Barclays was being grilled by lawmakers
about his candidacy for the Prudential Regulation Committee at
the BoE, whose governor Andrew Bailey has said bitcoin has
little intrinsic value.

A lawmaker asked Jenkins whether it was appropriate that
Blockchain was hyping up "speculative and high risk"
crypto-assets to the "world and his wife" on Twitter.

Blockchain advertised on Twitter this week, "Show of hands:
Are you buying the dip?"

Bitcoin rocketed to a record high of $42,000 last
Friday, and has since eased, trading around $34,830 on
Wednesday.

Jenkins said that in many ways crypto-assets are highly
speculative but they are also part of a larger ecosystem around
distributed ledger technology that will be important for finance
going forward.

"We have very significant controls over who we do business
with," Jenkins said of Blockchain.

Earlier this week, the Financial Conduct Authority, whose
CEO Nikhil Rathi sits on the PRC, warned consumers of the risks
from investments advertising high returns based on
crypto-assets.

Lawmakers questioned whether Jenkins would have enough time
for the BoE given he listed six other commitments. He said he
expects to relinquish some of them to free up time.

In 2012, Barclays was the first bank to be fined for trying
to rig the Libor interest rate benchmark.

Jenkins, who joined Barclaycard in 2006 and became CEO of
Barclays from 2012 to 2015, was asked if he felt any personal
responsibility for the Libor scandal.

"I have actually spent most of time at Barclays either
shutting things down or tidying up problems of the past, as
opposed to being involved in driving things forward in an
inappropriate way," Jenkins said.
(Reporting by Huw Jones;
Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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