Bank attacks Bloomberg data prying

BloombergThe Bank of England has criticised data prying at financial news agency Bloomberg as "reprehensible" amid fears its leading officials could have been victims of the scandal.

The Bank is launching a co-ordinated probe with other central banks into the affair, which was triggered by a complaint from Goldman Sachs that Bloomberg allowed its journalists to access its login details.

Reporters were given access to confidential data on how clients including banks and other City organisations use Bloomberg terminals to track financial markets. That has sparked fears that journalists could have been given access to data searches by Bank officials, including governor Sir Mervyn King, which are used to inform crucial decisions such as interest rate rises and economic stimulus.

The Bank said: "The protection of confidential information is vital here at the Bank. What seems to have happened at Bloomberg is reprehensible.
"Bank officials are in close contact with Bloomberg, who have provided assurances to ensure that this does not happen again. We will also be liaising with other central banks on this matter."

Bloomberg faces probes from US, German, Japanese and European central banks and the US Treasury.

It has apologised for the scandal, which editor in chief Matthew Winkler has described as "inexcusable". He admitted it has been practice since the 1990s for reporters to be able to access login details to see what topics its clients wanted to see covered.

He said: "Because we hold others accountable for disclosure, we expect the same of ourselves. Last month, we immediately changed our policy so that reporters now have no greater access to information than our customers have.

"We apologise for our error as it does not reflect on our culture or our heritage. And we will strive to continue to uphold the highest standards while adhering to the best practices in the industry as long as we may be fortunate to serve our customers as they would have us serve them."

Bloomberg customers pay about 20,000 US dollars (£13,000) a year to rent the terminals, which offer instant access to fast-moving financial markets. The company was founded in 1982 by current New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.