Working in the finance industry comes with strict compliance guidelines due to the amount of currency being traded. So its doesn’t come as a surprise that big banks such as JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank AG are cracking down, banning their traders from using multiparty chatrooms with employees at other firms.
The trend of curbing external communication within competitive firms began after recent investigations into currency manipulation activity became prevalent in the industry. According to a recent Bloomberg report, investigators around the world have been scouring shared financial chat forums for evidence of wrongdoing in probes ranging from alleged manipulation of foreign-exchange markets to interest-rate rigging.
For those banks instituting a ban, employees can expect all prior and future communications to be reviewed carefully to ensure that pertinent information is staying within each firm and interest rate rigging is minimized.
UBS and Citigroup were two of the first big banks to enforce the ban and after JP Morgan and Deutsche followed suit, even the Royal Bank of Scotland Group is considering doing the same to protect its assets.
In the past, transcripts of chatroom discussions have helped identify rigging of global benchmark interest rates. The main reason behind the chat room bans is protection. Earlier this year, Germany’s largest bank fired five Frankfurt- based traders for inappropriate communication with colleagues. Four of the men sued for wrongful dismissal and returned to work. The bank said last year that its own internal investigation of alleged attempts to rig rates cleared current and former management board members of wrongdoing.
Bloomberg News reported in June that currency dealers said they had been front-running client orders and attempting to rig foreign-exchange rates by colluding with counterparts and pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set. They would share details of orders with brokers and counterparts at banks through instant messages to align their strategies, two of the people said at the time.
More than a half-dozen finance firms have been fined about $6 billion since June 2012 for rigging benchmark interest rates.
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