Singapore on Friday censured 20 banks, including top global lenders, over attempts to manipulate local benchmark rates -- part of a widening rate-rigging scandal being investigated by financial regulators worldwide.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said a yearlong review found that 20 banks -- including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Standard Chartered -- had insufficient internal controls and risk management which allowed traders to attempt manipulation.
"MAS has censured these banks and directed them to adopt measures to address their deficiencies," the city-state's central bank said in a statement.
"The banks are required to report their progress to MAS on a quarterly basis and conduct independent reviews to ensure the robustness of their remedial measures."
Singapore is a global financial and wealth management centre that houses the regional offices of the world's top financial institutions.
MAS, the city-state's central bank, said 133 traders from these banks were found "to have engaged in several attempts to inappropriately influence the benchmarks".
Three-quarters of these traders have resigned or been fired, while the rest face disciplinary actions including loss of bonuses and demotion.
The MAS crackdown is the latest in a global campaign by financial regulators to curb malpractices in the setting of benchmark rates, which has resulted in banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and Barclays paying fines worth millions of dollars.
MAS ordered 19 of the banks to set aside deposits ranging from Sg$100 million ($80 million) to Sg$1.2 billion for one year.
ING Bank N.V, UBS AG and the Royal Bank of Scotland had the highest deposit requirements due to the "severity of attempts" by their traders to influence the rates.
Three of Singapore's homegrown banks were also censured, with Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp asked to set aside up to Sg$800 million while DBS and United Overseas Bank were told to put aside up to Sg$600 million each.
"While there is no conclusive finding that... benchmarks were successfully manipulated, the traders' conduct reflected a lack of professional ethics," MAS said.
However, it said that based on available information and evidence, no criminal offence appears to have been committed under current Singapore laws.
MAS said it will propose a new regulatory framework for financial benchmarks to strengthen safeguards against manipulation.
"Ensuring the integrity of the processes for setting financial benchmarks is vital," said MAS deputy managing director Teo Swee Lian.
"MAS has taken firm supervisory actions against the banks, based on a careful assessment of their respective deficiencies."
-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --