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EU Lawmakers Back Tighter Benchmark Standards After Libor Scandal

Tue, 19th May 2015 13:04

Strasbourg, France (Alliance News) - The European Parliament on Tuesday backed plans to improve the supervision of financial benchmarks in the wake of the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal.

Lawmakers hope the measures can be finalized by the end of the year.

Benchmarks - which include major indices such as Libor and Euribor, but also those used to set cocoa or oil prices - are a reference for financial instruments and contracts valued at more than 1,000 trillion euros (1,150 trillion dollars), according to some estimates.

Suspicions about rate-rigging arose during the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, financial institutions including Britain's Barclays bank, Swiss banking giant UBS and Germany's Deutsche Bank have been slapped with hefty fines over the practice.

"Manipulation of benchmarks affects us all, whether it comes to the interest we pay on our mortgage, the value of our pension plans or the price of petrol," said EU lawmaker Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, who shepherded the bill through parliament.

The proposals must now be negotiated with EU member states.

"The steady stream of scandals involving the manipulation of all kinds of benchmarks is proof that new and more stringent regulation is desperately needed," van Nieuwenhuizen added.

The draft laws approved Tuesday aim to prevent conflicts of interest in setting critical benchmarks such as Libor and Euribor; improve transparency; and ensure supervision at the European level.

Last year, the EU passed legislation criminalizing insider dealing and market manipulation, introducing mandatory jail sentences for the most serious offenders.

Copyright dpa

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