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UBS suspends at least one trader in Singapore: sources

By Rachel Armstrong

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - UBS AG has suspended at least one trader in Singapore for possible manipulation of interbank lending rates, sources told Reuters, as the fallout from the Libor scandal widens.

The Swiss bank has put Prakant Sood, an emerging market fixed income trader, on leave as part of its internal probe into rate rigging, the sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources also said that Jeffrey Tay had been placed on leave but Tay has strongly denied he had been suspended from the bank.

"I am not involved in the case," Tay told Reuters. "I have resigned from the bank."

A spokeswoman for UBS in Singapore declined to comment on the suspensions.

Emails sent to Tay and Sood at their UBS addresses came back with an automated reply directing inquiries to UBS's co-head of emerging markets for Asia, Bala Venkatesan.

Sood has not responded to several attempts to contact him by Reuters.

More than a dozen banks are under investigation for possible manipulation of Libor - the interest charged when banks lend to each other - and other benchmark rates by regulators in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

UBS was the first bank to report suspected rate rigging in March 2011, and has received conditional immunity from some authorities for co-operating in their probes.

In Singapore, the focus of the interbank rigging scandal has so far been on possible manipulation of Libor rates by traders at Royal Bank of Scotland .

A former trader for the bank, Tan Chi Min, is suing the British lender for unfair dismissal after he was fired for allegedly trying to "improperly" influence its yen Libor submissions.

However it is now emerging that there may have been possible manipulation of Singapore's interbank rates as well. Earlier this month it was reported that Royal Bank of Scotland has suspended a trader in the city state for attempting to manipulate the swap offer rate (SOR), one of the city state's main reference rates.

On Wednesday, RBS won an application to have a dossier in the Tan case remain sealed from public view. The documents are believed to include electronic messaging conversations about Libor submissions.

The bank had argued in September, when it first submitted the documents, that making them public could prejudice investigations by several global regulators into the scale and scope of the British bank's role in fixing the benchmark.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore ordered banks in July to review the way its benchmark interbank borrowing rates are set. Last month the regulator said that process must be extended to look at how rates for non-deliverable foreign exchange forwards are set as well.

UBS stopped making contributions for the Singapore interbank offered rate (Sibor) benchmarks in April this year. It still contributes to the fixings for the SOR and foreign exchange rates.

The panels are run by the Association of Banks in Singapore, for whom Thomson Reuters is the official agent. Reuters parent company Thomson Reuters Corp collects information from banks and uses it to calculate Libor rates according to specifications drawn up by the British Bankers' Association (BBA).

Barclays was fined $450 million by U.S. and UK regulators in June for manipulation of Libor -- the London Interbank Offered rate -- while other banks, including RBS, are expected to reach settlements with regulators in the coming months.

(Additional reporting by Saeed Azhar in Singapore and Katharina Bart in Zurich; Editing by Mike Nesbit and Jane Merriman)

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