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Singapore's financial benchmarks to be used in the EU

Chris Hamblin, Editor, London, 4 May 2020

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The European Securities and Markets Authority has declared the rules that govern Singapore's financial benchmarks to be 'equivalent' to its own Benchmarks Regulation, guaranteeing the free use of Singaporean benchmarks within its borders.

The pricing of many financial instruments and financial contracts depends on the accuracy and integrity of benchmarks. Serious cases of manipulation of interest rate benchmarks (such as LIBOR and EURIBOR) prove that benchmarks are dirty phenomena. The Benchmarks Regulation is an attempt to stop this abuse.

ESMA's rules to make benchmark administrators disclose ESG-related information to it (in the form of delegated legislation) are not yet ready. It has therefore issued a 'no-action' letter that says that the national regulators under its thrall ought not to "prioritise supervisory or enforcement action against administrators regarding these new requirements" until they are.

Steven Maijoor, the chairman of ESMA, has declared that his organisation's decision about Singaporean 'equivalence' and the concomitant signing of a memorandum of understanding - which has no legal force but indicates the parties' willingness to keep talking to each other about benchmarks - is an important step towards the completion of a project that the EU is working on that will, in time, govern its approach to external countries' benchmarks comprehensively.

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