British authorities have fined Barclays, one of five banks that sets the price of gold each day in the London fix, nearly $44 million after a former trader improperly influenced the price-setting mechanism.
The British Financial Conduct Authority said that, in 2012, Daniel James Plunkett, a director on the bank’s precious metals desk, placed certain orders meant to decrease the metal’s price, so he would not have to deliver a $3.9 million payout for a customer’s options contract.
Plunkett has been fined $160,000.
The agency said that Barclays failed to “adequately manage the inherent conflict of interest” that stems from setting the price of gold and then selling consumers’ options based on that price.
The price-setting mechanism, which dates back to 1919, has drawn renewed scrutiny of late, and is the subject of at least two class-action lawsuits.