Federal Reserve

Richmond Fed President Lacker says he was involved with Medley leak, announces immediate resignation

Fed's Lacker out on leak investigation

Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker announced his immediate resignation Tuesday, admitting that he discussed sensitive information with an analyst regarding the Fed's plans for economic stimulus.

Lacker, 61, became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond on Aug. 1, 2004. He is a member of the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee. CNBC has learned that the resignation was negotiated with law enforcement officials. Lacker's attorney told CNBC no charges will be filed.

Lacker, who was not a voting member of the FOMC this year, previously said he planned to retire in October.

In his letter of resignation, Lacker admitted to speaking to an analyst at Medley Global Advisors regarding the September 2012 Fed meeting. Medley publishes analysis for hedge funds and asset managers and is owned by the Financial Times. Lacker said his actions violated Fed communications policies that prohibit "providing any profit-making person or organization with a prestige advantage over its competitors."

Lacker said he was asked by an analyst about an "important nonpublic detail" regarding the Federal Open Market Committee's policy options.

"Due to the highly confidential and sensitive nature of this information, I should have declined to comment and perhaps have ended the phone call," Lacker said. "Instead, I did not refuse or express my inability to comment and the interview continued."

In addition, Lacker said he was obligated to disclose that the analyst had confidential information, which he did not do.

Medley ultimately told clients in October 2012 that the Fed would initiate another leg of its monthly bond-buying program in December. The author of the note was Regina Schleiger, who added in the note that Fed members had been up after midnight preparing for the meeting, according to the New York Times.

The original Medley Global Advisors Report, Oct. 3, 2012:

The Fed was criticized for not referring the leak to the Securities and Exchange Commission or the FBI. Instead, Fed General Counsel Scott Alvarez lead a Fed probe into the matter from October 2012 until March of 2013.

Lacker said he further did not disclose during an internal review into the matter that the analyst had confidential information. He never revealed the information until an April 15 interview with multiple federal authorities including the FBI.

"I deeply regret the role I may have played in confirming this confidential information and in its dissemination to Medley's subscribers," Lacker added. "In this episode, as in all of my communications with analysts, journalists and the public, it was never my intention to reveal confidential information."

The Richmond Fed said it was immediately looking for a replacement. In the interim, Mark Mullinix, who was first vice president, will serve as acting president.

Mark Mullinix, vice president and chief operating officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

"We are focused on moving forward within our organization — and were already underway with our presidential search, following Jeffrey Lacker's announcement in January to retire in 2017," it said in a statement. "This search process will continue as scheduled."

The Medley investigation involves allegations that confidential information from the Federal Reserve Board committee, which sets monetary policy, was leaked to a private newsletter. Such a leak could have given an unfair advantage to some investors.

On Tuesday, a Financial Times spokesperson said " Medley Global Advisors is a journalistic organization that publishes in-depth macro policy coverage and analysis. Like all other journalistic organizations, reporting necessarily requires working with sources."

The Fed also released a statement saying, it "is committed to maintaining the security of confidential FOMC information. We cooperated fully with the independent law enforcement investigation into an unauthorized disclosure in 2012. We appreciate the diligent efforts made to bring this matter to its conclusion."

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CNBC's Steve Liesman, Ted Kemp and Martin Steinberg contributed to this report.

Correction: This story was revised to accurately reflect Lacker's age as 61.

Watch: Lacker announces immediate resignation

Fed's Lacker says he was involved with Medley leak, announces immediate resignation