Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth LONDON | Wed Oct 9, 2013 9:44am EDT LONDON (Reuters) – Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (RBS.L) has handed instant messages sent by a former currency trader to counterparts at other banks to Britain’s financial regulator as part of its probe into the foreign exchange market, a source familiar with the matter said. Investigations into the $5 trillion-a-day market have broadened with authorities in Switzerland and Britain looking into whether traders at banks sought to manipulate benchmark foreign currency rates. RBS sent on the instant messages to Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after deciding they were inappropriate. The action was taken following an internal probe, the source said on Wednesday, and the trader had left the bank before the messages were uncovered. His departure was not linked to the probe, according to the source. RBS and the FCA declined to comment. The FCA said in June it was probing whether dealers had manipulated foreign exchange benchmarks by trading ahead of their own customers’ orders, a practice known in the markets as “front running”. RBS is one of a number of institutions to have sifted through instant messages and emails and have passed on information to watchdogs as banks feel the pressure of increased scrutiny of market conduct in the wake of the Libor interest rate rigging scandal, which has seen four institutions fined around $2.7 billion and seven men charged with fraud-related crimes to date. Another source familiar with the latest inquiry said the tone of messages between foreign exchange traders was similar to exchanges between Libor derivatives traders, whose brazen arrogance as they manipulated benchmark interest rates first stunned regulators, politicians and the public in 2012. Anonymized messages such as: “Done for you big boy” and “Dude, I owe you big time! Come over one day after work and I’m opening a bottle of Bollinger” were published by UK and US regulators after they reached a regulatory settlement with Barclays (BARC.L) in June 2012 over allegations of Libor rate manipulation. (Reporting by Matt Scuffham and Kirstin Ridley; Editing by Carmel Crimmins) Tweet this
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“Inspired by our muffins, we sat together with our bakers and pondered how you could make a muffin go one step further,” reads the Starbucks copy introducing the baked good. “Step forward the Duffin: taking the best of a muffin: that moist texture, the iconic shape and then mixing it up with elements of a traditional jam filled doughnut.” But instead of hunger pangs, the announcement inspired the ire of British locals who took Starbucks to task for not crediting Bea’s. A hashtag #duffingate began to trend on Twitter. “I didn’t really give it too much thought until I found out their version of the duffin also contains raspberry jam, nutmeg and buttermilk,” said Bea Vo, owner of Bea’s on Bloomsbury, in an e-mail to ABC News. “My recipe, which was published in my cookbook back in August 2011, is the only one out there to carry all of those traits. Doughnut muffins have been around for a while, Nigella Lawson even has them in her first cookbook — but the style of mine, that is what makes it unique.” The fact that Rich Products, Starbucks’ wholesaler/distributor of baked goods, had trademarked the name “duffin” troubled Vo, who worried she would now be prohibited from selling her own creations at the Bea’s cafes. “I thought ‘this is absurd,'” Vo said. “It’s like trademarking ‘cupcake.'” In an initial statement by Ian Cranna, VP Marketing & Category for Starbucks UK, the chain expressed vague ignorance that other versions of a doughnut-muffin hybrid existed prior to their own. “As always before we launch a new product we conducted an extensive search online and a full trademark search on the name and on this occasion we found no indication that anyone else was using the name, nor retailing a similar product,” he said. But Vo wasn’t buying it. “That is obviously laughable,” she said. “With a quick Google search you would find tons of styles of duffins, people selling duffins, our own press about duffins, and people’s recipes for duffins, including mine.” Vo contends that with as many versions of the duffin floating around as there are, no one should own the name and Starbucks should not have claimed to have invented it. “I’m a pastry chef by trade, and it’s a craft,” she said.