One Essex Court’s Grabiner to lead BoE forex investigation

Heavyweight One Essex Court silk Tony Grabiner QC has been appointed to lead the independent investigation into allegations of forex manipulation at the Bank of England (BoE).

The BoE’s oversight committee has tasked the silk with looking into whether any bank officials were involved with rigging the forex rates between 2005 and 2013.

The silk will work on the investigation with Travers Smith, which the bank has asked to carry out an examination of a mass of emails, phone calls and other data revealing the actions of senior officials (12 March 2014).

The bank launched an internal review at the end of last year following allegations that officials were involved in rate-fixing. The investigation has already spawned around 15,000 emails, 21,000 Bloomberg and Reuters chat room records and more than 40 hours of telephone call recordings.

The forex investigation will look into whether any bank official was involved in attempted or actual manipulation of the forex market, aware of it or colluded with market participants over manipulation. It will also ask whether officials were involved in the sharing of confidential client information or was aware of the sharing of such information or any unlawful activity.

Grabiner will be given free reign over any materials which might be relevant to the allegations including unlimited emails, audio and hard copy documents and will also be able to speak to any bank employees or officers.

The QC will publish his findings in a public document but its publication will be deferred until the conclusion of the Financial Conduct Authority’s own investigation, which kicked off last year.

Grabiner is one of the leading silks at the bar and also chaired the management and standards committee (MSC) set up by News Corporation to investigate the phone-hacking scandal (25 July 2011). 

He has also just been instructed to lead on financier Guy Hand’s high-profile case against Citigroup over private-equity Terra Firma’s ill-fate acquisition of EMI (11 March 2014).

David Lees, chairman of the bank’s oversight committee, said: “The Oversight Committee has been monitoring developments since it was first informed of the internal foreign exchange market review last November.

“The Oversight Committee believes that it is essential that matters raised by the bank’s initial review should be thoroughly and independently examined and that the bank’s executive should act on any lessons.”