News | Published December 19 2019

Bank of England admits press conference audio leak

The Bank of England has admitted that an audio feed of its press conferences was leaked to hedge funds before the visual footage was broadcast, blaming one supplier for “misuse” of the feed.

Comments made by Bank officials on interest rates and other market sensitive issues are capable of impacting the value of sterling and other assets in less than seconds. 

The audio leak means that some high-speed traders were given access to key information around five to eight seconds in advance, handing them an unfair advantage in order to generate money.

Some of the information that traders were given early access to include details on interest rates, economic guidance, and the financial wellbeing of the banks and markets.

Customarily, the Bank announces a decision on interest rates each month, with a press conference following which begins with the governor's statement, before handing over to journalists to then ask their questions.

Bloomberg broadcasts the press conference on video, which is then shared to other news sources. However, the video and audio feeds are separate, which allowed the leak to come about.

The Bank has since disabled the supplier’s access privileges and barred involvement at future press conferences, saying that the leak was “wholly unacceptable use” of the audio feed and that the matter had been handed over to the Financial Conduct Authority. 

The identity of the company providing the audio feed has not been disclosed.

A statement from the Bank of England said: "The Bank operates the highest standards of information security around the release of the market sensitive decisions of its policy committees.”

The Times, who first reported the leak, said that such actions has been ongoing since at least the beginning of 2019 and that it had uncovered documents proving that early access to press conference information was even being sold on to traders.

The news source believes that information from press conferences at the European Central Bank, the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada are being offered out in the same manner.

Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
December 19 2019

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