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Rogue player abused early access to BOE press conference info

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BOE says it blocked the unnamed supplier's access once it was informed of the misuse.

London

A ROGUE supplier has been misusing audio feeds from Bank of England (BOE) news conferences this year, the central bank said, giving traders access to potentially market-moving information seconds before rivals.

In response to a report in The Times newspaper, Britain's central bank said a third-party supplier had accessed a back-up audio feed of some of its news conferences without its consent and supplied it to "other external clients".

Briefings by BOE governor Mark Carney and other central bank officials often move the prices of financial assets such as currencies and government bonds, and early access to their comments could allow traders to make millions.

The BOE supplier had been sending the feed to high-speed traders who could have had a five- to eight-second head start because sound can be compressed and transmitted far faster than video, The Times said.

"This wholly unacceptable use of the audio feed was without the Bank's knowledge or consent, and is being investigated further," the central bank said in a statement late on Wednesday, without naming the supplier.

A number of suppliers also offer high-speed audio feeds for news conferences by the European Central Bank (ECB), the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada. Some have tried to level the playing field for all market watchers.

In September, the ECB added a public audio feed for its news conferences on its website, in addition to its usual video webcast. The central bank said this was to allow all to follow the briefing in "almost real time".

The ECB had become concerned that unaffiliated vendors were selling an unauthorised audio feed of its news conferences to market participants, though it was not clear how the suppliers gained access to the sound.

There is a lag of about 30 seconds between the ECB's new low-latency audio feed and its video webcast.

The BOE's audio feed was intended as a fallback option if its official video feed of its news conferences failed, according to The Times.

A BOE spokesman said it had referred the misuse of the feed to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The bank said it had blocked the supplier's access once The Times had informed it of the misuse.

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

The FCA, which is responsible for regulating markets and traders in Britain, said it was looking into the matter. REUTERS