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Bank of England says rogue traders had early access to briefings

By Elena Berton

Backup audio was used by unnamed third party to give investors up to eight seconds' advantage over rivals

The Bank of England said traders had access to the audio of its press conferences before broadcast, giving them a head start of as much as eight seconds over other investors.

The central bank has referred the case to the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, which oversees investment firms. It has launched a wide-ranging review of security at the its headquarters.

The FCA confirmed it was investigating the case.

“This wholly unacceptable use of the audio feed was without the Bank’s knowledge or consent, and is being investigated further,” the bank said in a statement, without naming the supplier.

The rogue traders gained access to a backup audio feed run by an unnamed third-party supplier, the bank said.

Financial data company Bloomberg handles the Bank of England’s main video feed. The backup audio feed was intended as a fallback if the central bank’s official video feed failed.

Governor Mark Carney’s comments, which are broadcast online, are closely watched as they often move currency and bond markets if they give hints on the future path of interest rates.

The audio feed, which is faster to compress and transmit than video, gave the rogue traders an advantage of as much as eight seconds.

The bank said the supplier had not distributed feeds from its most recent news conference and will not be involved in any conferences in the future.

The unnamed supplier charged up to £5,000 ($6,552, €5,879) for each press conference, according to the Times.

The newspaper also reported that the same supplier offers high-speed audio services for news conferences hosted by the European Central Bank, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada.

FURTHER READING: Bank of England to tighten redemption rules on open-ended funds

FURTHER READING: Major banks unwittingly process billions of crypto

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