Belfast Telegraph

'No evidence' Bank of England broke law over liquidity auctions during crisis

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has closed an investigation into the Bank of England, saying there was "no evidence" it broke the law when holding liquidity auctions during the financial crisis.

The fraud agency launched a probe three years ago to discover whether the Bank had unfairly helped some lenders bid for funding as they came under pressure at the height of the credit crunch.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street had referred itself to the SFO in November 2014 after carrying out its own investigation.

The SFO said: "The focus of the investigation was whether assistance had been provided to certain financial institutions to enable them to bid successfully for the available funding, to the possible detriment of other institutions."

The Bank had moved to pump extra liquidity into the UK financial system during the crisis, which saw the Government provide state bailouts for Lloyds Banking Group and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The SFO said it had carried out a "thorough investigation" before coming to the conclusion that there was "no evidence of criminality in relation to the matter".

In a statement, the Bank said it was "proud of the dedication and professionalism" of staff amid the financial crash.

It added: "The investigation focused on the conduct and operation of certain of the Bank's liquidity auctions at the height of the financial crisis when a number of systemically-important UK financial institutions were under unprecedented stress.

"The financial crisis exposed shortcomings in the Bank's frameworks for providing liquidity insurance, operating procedures and governance arrangements."

It comes after Barclays and four former top bankers, including ex-boss John Varley, were charged with fraud on Tuesday by the SFO over side-deals struck during the bank's emergency fundraising at the height of the financial crisis.