Technical problems with a foreign exchange order at BNZ once resulted in an unintended position of more than $1 billion against the US dollar being taken, equivalent to about 20% of BNZ’s total regulatory capital.
The Reserve Bank revealed this had happened to an unnamed New Zealand bank in its Financial Stability Report issued on Wednesday. A BNZ spokesman confirmed to interest.co.nz that BNZ was the bank involved.
The Reserve Bank comments came in a section in the report on banks' operational risk, which is the risk of losses resulting from inadequate or failed internal processes, people and systems, or from external events. The Reserve Bank points out operational risk events have caused significant losses for banks in New Zealand and abroad, providing examples of this. It gives the wayward foreign exchange, or FX, transaction as one of these examples.
"In April 2014, technical problems in a major New Zealand bank caused 1,280 trades to be generated from a single FX order of $1 million. This resulted in an unintended position of over $1 billion against the US dollar (equivalent to around 20% of the bank’s total regulatory capital)," the Reserve Bank says.
Interest.co.nz asked spokespeople from ANZ NZ, ASB, BNZ and Westpac NZ whether their bank was the unnamed bank featuring in the Reserve Bank revelation. The ANZ, ASB, and Westpac spokespeople said it was not their banks.
A BNZ spokesman acknowledged the bank referred to by the Reserve Bank was BNZ.
"In 2014 there was an unknown bug in a third-party foreign exchange trading platform that resulted in an FX trade that replicated in error. It was quickly identified and fixed, a total time of about 30 minutes, and we alerted the Reserve Bank at the time," a BNZ spokesman said.
Asked about the comment in the Financial Stability Report, a Reserve Bank spokesman said; "To be clear, we're not saying the bank lost $1 billion, just that the money was temporarily at risk."
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