* EU governments to map out plans for post in April
* Spanish concerned about euro's vulnerability
By Justyna Pawlak
BRUSSELS, March 3 Spain wants the European Union
to use a planned public prosecutor's office for the region to
protect the euro currency against speculators, Spanish attorney
general Candido Conde-Pumpido said on Wednesday.
The EU's Lisbon treaty, in force since December, provides
for the creation of a European public prosecutor's office
focusing on financial crime.
Spanish officials said the Greek debt crisis had highlighted
the need for the EU to have a coordinated legal response against
speculators attacking the euro, which has slumped to nine-month
lows against the dollar.
"The existence of an area with a single currency requires a
single institution to implement laws to protect its economic
interests," Conde-Pumpido told a news briefing in Brussels.
"Doubtless if there were a public prosecutor and there was a
combined attack against the single currency, the prosecutor
could coordinate the legal response vis-a-vis that attack."
At the request of Spain, which holds the EU's rotating
presidency until the end of June, EU governments will discuss
plans for the post at a meeting of interior ministers in April.
Conde-Pumpido did not elaborate on what legal tools the
prosecutor's office might use to prevent financial markets from
selling the euro in response to concern about economic strains
in the euro zone.
But his proposal came amid signs on both sides of the
Atlantic that governments were keen to confront hedge funds and
other institutions involved in volatile currency and debt
trading over recent months.
Officials working for EU financial markets chief Michel
Barnier will meet industry experts and supervisors on Friday to
discuss debt speculators, after Greece complained that traders
were worsening its borrowing problems by pushing up yields.
In the United States, the U.S. Justice Department has
launched an investigation into whether hedge funds might have
acted together betting against the euro, a source familiar with
the situation said on Wednesday. [ID:nN03290445]
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the
matter, said that the department had asked hedge funds including
SAC Capital Advisors LP, Greenlight Capital Inc., Soros Fund
Management LLC and Paulson & Co. to retain trading records and
emails relating to the euro.
Some analysts believe Spain, its economy struggling, could
be one of the next countries in line after Greece to have its
debt dumped by speculators.
El Pais newspaper reported last month that Spain's
intelligence services had been asked to investigate the role of
speculators and the media in Spanish debt market turbulence.
"It's not that Europe is defenceless now," Spain's minister
for European affairs, Diego Lopez Garrido, said in response to a
question about whether Greece's woes made it more pressing to
set up a pan-European prosecuting office to chase fraud.
"What this office would do is make the prosecution of any
offences much more coordinated, much more effective."
Another area where the office will be vital, said Garrido,
is the use of structural aid funds distributed by the EU to its
members in order to reduce economic inbalances among the bloc's
The office would pass on its investigations to national
courts. At a later stage, it could broaden its mandate beyond
financial crimes to tackle other cross-border issues such
terrorism and illegal trafficking, Spanish officials said.
(Editing by Luke Baker and Andrew Torchia)