Richmond Fed chief quits over 2012 leak of confidential information

Conversation with Wall Street analyst came as Fed was rolling out bond-buying package

Jeffrey Lacker:  information was disclosed by Medley Global Advisors and led to a criminal investigation. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Jeffrey Lacker: information was disclosed by Medley Global Advisors and led to a criminal investigation. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

 

Richmond Federal Reserve Bank president Jeffrey Lacker abruptly left the US central bank on Tuesday after admitting a conversation he had with a Wall Street analyst in 2012 may have disclosed confidential information about Fed policy options.

The 2012 leak had triggered a criminal investigation and came as the Federal Reserve was laying the groundwork for a massive bond-buying package that it rolled out later in the year. The information was disclosed by Medley Global Advisors one day ahead of the publication of the central bank’s own minutes from its September meeting.

Pushed

Lacker said in January he would retire in October. But on Tuesday he said he decided to make his departure effective immediately because he had confirmed confidential information to Medley. It was not clear if Lacker was pushed out of his post, although the Richmond Fed said in a statement it took “appropriate actions” after learning the outcome of government investigations into the leak.

I deeply regret the role I may have played in confirming this confidential information

Lacker said he did not fully disclose details of his 2012 discussion with a Medley analyst when he was interviewed by a Fed lawyer that year. He did, however, say in a 2015 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation that his discussion with the Medley analyst included confidential information.

Lacker gave no reason for the time gap between the 2015 interview and his statement on Tuesday.

‘Regret’

The interview with the FBI also involved the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Office of the Inspector General of the Federal Reserve Board and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

“I deeply regret the role I may have played in confirming this confidential information,” Lacker said in a statement, adding it had “never” been his “intention to reveal confidential information”.

Lacker said he may have broken a policy “which prohibits providing any profit-making person or organisation with a prestige advantage over its competitors”.

I should have declined to comment and perhaps have ended the phone call

He did not say he provided the analyst with details about the Fed’s policy options. Rather, he said the Medley analyst brought up confidential Fed information in their conversation.

“I should have declined to comment and perhaps have ended the phone call. Instead, I did not refuse or express my inability to comment and the interview continued,” he said.

The Medley report triggered a furore in the US Congress and became a source of friction between the central bank and lawmakers, leading to a criminal investigation.