RBNZ Starts Investigation Into Alleged Leak of Surprise Rate Cut

New Zealand’s central bank has initiated a probe into an alleged leak of its surprise decision to cut the official cash rate earlier this month.

“We are aware of an allegation that information may have been leaked ahead of the OCR announcement on 10 March,” Reserve Bank spokesman Mike Hannah said in an e-mailed statement Monday. “While we have no evidence at this stage that any information was leaked, we take the integrity and security of market-sensitive information very seriously and have initiated an external investigation into the allegation.”

The RBNZ on March 10 cut its benchmark rate to a fresh record low of 2.25 percent, wrong-footing most economists and investors and prompting the New Zealand dollar to drop more than 1 U.S. cent. The central bank holds lockups for journalists and analysts on the day of a rate decision so they can digest the news under an embargo, which lifts at 9 a.m. local time.

On the day of the cut, former RBNZ official Michael Reddell, now an outspoken critic of the bank, wrote in a blog post that he’d been told of the decision before the embargo lifted.

“The Reserve Bank might want look to the security of its systems,” Reddell wrote in his Croaking Cassandra blog. “I had an email out of the blue at around 8 this morning -- most definitely not from someone in the Bank -– telling me that the sender had just heard that the OCR was to be cut by 25 basis points. I have no way of knowing if it was the fruit of a leak, or just inspired speculation, and was relieved to see the foreign exchange markets weren’t moving, but it wasn’t a good look.”

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