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Fraud office examines Bank auctions

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is investigating material referred to it by the Bank of England concerning liquidity auctions held during the financial crisis.

The Bank has confirmed it held an independent inquiry last year, conducted by Lord Grabiner QC, into liquidity auctions in 2007 and 2008.

The matter was then referred to the SFO in November.

The SFO assesses referrals before deciding whether to take on a case, according to its website.

Investigators are probing the results of the inquiry with a view to launching a formal investigation, the Financial Times reported.

An SFO spokesman said: "The SFO can confirm it is investigating material referred to it by the Bank of England concerning liquidity auctions during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008."

In a statement the Bank of England said: "Following the confirmation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) that it is investigating material referred to it by the Bank of England, the Bank can now confirm that it commissioned Lord Grabiner QC to conduct an independent inquiry into liquidity auctions during the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008.

"Following the conclusion of that initial inquiry, the BoE referred the matter to the SFO on November 20 2014. Given the SFO investigation is ongoing, it is not appropriate for the Bank to provide any additional comment on the matter at this time."

Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said: "The Bank referred this to the Serious Fraud Office when Lord Grabiner's initial findings were made clear to them.

"This was the right thing to do. I was informed about the referral on November 21 2014.

"We must now await the outcome of the SFO's work. The sooner their findings are published, the better."

Yesterday, Bank of England governor Mark Carney appeared before the Treasury Select Committee to speak to MPs about a separate probe, also led by Lord Grabiner, into what the Bank knew about the foreign exchange rate-rigging scandal.

He said that while the Bank had been damaged by the scandal, it had responded in a timely fashion and has acted on a series of recommendations made on changes to its internal processes.

The liquidity auctions saw banks being invited to borrow funds from the Bank of England in exchange for collateral, as a means of injecting cash into the markets at the height of the financial crisis in 2007/08.

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