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17-07-2012 10:58:00

National Australia Bk's UK Units Pulled Into FSA Probe - Sources

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By Caroline Henshaw

SYDNEY--National Australia Bank Ltd.'s (NAB.AU) problems in the U.K. will intensify this week when its Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale subsidiaries are added to a review of the alleged miss-selling of interest rate swap products, two people familiar with the matter said.

The banks will be among a dozen or so lenders brought under the scope of the review by the Financial Services Authority, which has already flagged "serious failings" in the sale of interest-rate hedging products to small and medium-sized businesses over the past decade, one of the people said.

Barclays (BCS), Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS), Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG) and HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC) last month reached an agreement with the Financial Services Authority, or FSA, that could see hundreds of thousands of pounds paid to customers in compensation over "serious failings" in the way products were sold.

"We believe that this has resulted in a severe impact on a large number of these businesses," the FSA said in a statement.

Interest rate swaps are a type of derivative product designed to protect buyers against increases in interest rates by swapping variable rates for fixed rates over a certain period. The regulator estimates the U.K. banks may have sold up to 28,000 interest rate swaps since 2001.

The FSA is expected to release another document this week giving more details on the scheme after its first report was deemed too vague. The original report found that cancellation costs were poorly disclosed, that banks failed to establish associated risks and that non-advised sales strayed into advice.

The banks maintain that the products were not complex and so customers would not be eligible for compensation.

Write to Caroline Henshaw at caroline.henshaw@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 17, 2012 04:58 ET (08:58 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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