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ESMA outlines stricter rules for EU benchmarks

The European Securities and Markets Authority has outlined stricter rules for EU financial benchmarks in a bid to clamp down on manipulation and improve transparency.

ESMA's draft standards lay down provisions to ensure that the complete process of benchmark provision is checked by a new oversight function to be established by administrators; that the potential benchmark manipulation is reduced by way of new rules around calculating and contributing input data; making sure conflicts of interest of administrators and contributors are properly managed; and ensuring a level playing field across member states for the authorization and registration of administrators.

The guidelines come after a slew of global banks were implicated in scandals involving the manipulation of benchmark rates including LIBOR.

ESMA Chairman Steven Maijoor said the draft guidelines will clarify "the behaviors and standards expected of administrators and contributors" and help "establish a common regulatory framework under which benchmarks are provided, produced and used, which will help to restore trust both in benchmarks and financial markets."