A secret Internet chatroom run by Britain's financial regulators helped keep London's financial markets open after Thursday's bomb blasts, while financial firms activated security measures in case of further attacks.

The Bank of England, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority switched on a secure section of their Financial Sector Continuity Web site to talk to major banks operating in the City of London's financial hub about how they were coping.

"In the light of yesterday's events the tripartite authorities (Treasury, Bank of England and FSA) have activated the contingency part of the Web site," they said on Friday.

The site, set up in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, allows regulators to coordinate and communicate with the financial services sector if there is a devastating event such as Thursday's bombings on a London bus and underground trains that killed more than 50 people and injured hundreds.

The Web site has a secure section where the authorities can communicate directly with big banks that are key to the stability of the international financial system.

"We, the authorities, were all in contact with each other and the financial infrastructure," a Bank of England spokeswoman said.

The City of London's financial markets, where currencies, stocks, bonds and commodities worth trillions of dollars are traded daily, kept going despite disruption from the blasts.

Swiss bank UBS, for example, briefly evacuated its building on Liverpool Street, which houses bond and currency desks, but contingency plans ensured trading was not affected.

The Corporation of London, the body that runs the City, and the City of London police also have an Internet communication system that was used on Thursday to pass on advice to banks and other firms in the City's "Square Mile," the European hub for some of the world's biggest financial services firms.

Banks have long had plans for such attacks in the wake of Sept. 11, and routinely monitor code levels put out by intelligence services and the police.

Chairmen of several big banks, for example, plus their in-house security chiefs, had a briefing with intelligence service MI6 around four months ago, one bank source familiar with the matter said.. (Continued Here)


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