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Britain considers jail for foreign exchange rigging

Britain's government, together with the Bank of England and financial regulators, proposed on Thursday legislation to punish foreign exchange rigging with criminal sanctions, including prison.

LONDON: Britain's government, together with the Bank of England and financial regulators, proposed on Thursday legislation to punish foreign exchange rigging with criminal sanctions, including prison.

The proposal, which is part of a review into market abuses, comes as a number of banks worldwide are being probed over potential rigging of the foreign exchange market.

This comes meanwhile after some traders have been found guilty of manipulating the inter-bank Libor interest rate. Britain has already threatened prison for those found guilty of rigging Libor.

The Treasury, Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority said new government legislation to regulate Libor will be extended "to cover further benchmarks in the foreign exchange, fixed income and commodity markets".

Finance minister George Osborne said: "I am going to deal with abuses, tackle the unacceptable behaviour of the few and ensure that markets are fair for the many who depend on them."

Bank of England governor Mark Carney said he welcomed "wholeheartedly" the review being taken.

"Through it, we will build true markets... that are open and transparent, where access extends beyond a privileged few, and where all who wish to trade have common information and commonly accessible prices."

The Libor scandal erupted two years ago when British bank Barclays was fined £290 million by British and US regulators for attempted manipulation of Libor and Euribor interbank rates between 2005 and 2009. Euribor is the eurozone equivalent of Libor.

The London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, is a flagship instrument used all over the world, affecting what banks, businesses and individuals pay to borrow money. Euribor is the eurozone equivalent.

Other banks have meanwhile faced far bigger fines than Barclays over Libor, notably Swiss lender UBS which was ordered to pay a penalty of $1.5 billion.

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