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Barclays fined US$43.9m over gold price failings

Scandal-hit Barclays has been fined more than £26 million pounds (nearly US$43.9m) after a former trader at the bank was accused of trying to manipulate the price of gold, Britain's financial regulator said on Friday. 

LONDON: Scandal-hit Barclays has been fined more than £26 million after a former trader at the bank was accused of trying to manipulate the price of gold, Britain's financial regulator said on Friday.

The Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement that it had fined Barclays £26.03 million ($43.87 million, 32.18 million euros) "for failing to adequately manage conflicts of interest between itself and its customers as well as systems and controls failings" in relation to a fixed London pricing of gold over a nine-year period to 2013.

This is a fresh blow for Barclays, which was at the heart of the Libor interest-rate rigging scandal in 2012.

The troubled British bank is also facing investigations along with other major lenders over possible manipulation of foreign exchange trades.

The FCA added that it had fined former Barclays trader Daniel James Plunkett £95,600 and banned him from working within any "regulated activity" after noting that on June 28, 2012, he "exploited the weaknesses in Barclays' systems and controls to seek to influence that day's 3:00pm Gold Fixing and thereby profited at a customer's expense".

The benchmark gold price is set twice daily by four banks, including Barclays, at 10:30am and 3:00pm.

"The Gold Fixing is an important price-setting mechanism which provides market users with the opportunity to buy and sell gold at a single quoted price," the FCA said in Friday's statement.

Tracey McDermott, the FCA's director of enforcement and financial crime, added: "A firm's lack of controls and a trader's disregard for a customer's interests have allowed the financial services industry's reputation to be sullied again.

"Plunkett has paid a heavy price for putting his own interests above the integrity of the market and Barclays' customer.

"Traders who might be tempted to exploit their clients for a quick buck should be in no doubt -- such behaviour will cost you your reputation and your livelihood." 

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