South Africa’s Competition Commission Refers 17 Banks to Tribunal for Prosecution

The Competition Commission in South Africa, the agency responsible for investigating and evaluating restrictive practices, abuse of position and mergers, has referred 17 banks to the Tribunal for prosecution.

The Commission said in a statement on 15th of February it ‘‘found that from at least 2007, the respondents had general agreement to collude on prices for bids, offers and bid-offer spreads for the spot trades in relation to currency trading involving US Dollar/ Rand currency pair’’.

According to the statement, the banks indicted are Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase & Co, JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A, Investec Ltd, Standard New York Securities Inc., HSBC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse Group; Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd, Commerzbank AG; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Nomura International Plc., Macquarie Bank Limited, ABSA Bank Limited (ABSA), Barclays Capital Inc, Barclays Bank.

The Commission also found that the banks manipulated price of bids and offers through agreement to refrain from trading and creating fictitious bids and offers at particular times.

According to the Commission, 14 of these banks are liable for the payment of an administrative penalty equal to 10% of their annual turnover. The banks are Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase & Co, JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A, Investec Ltd, Standard New York Securities Inc., HSBC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse Group; Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd, Commerzbank AG; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Nomura International Plc., Macquarie Bank Limited.

Investigations into the case have been ongoing since April 2015.

Tembinkosi Bonakele, the Commissioner said “the referral of this matter to the Tribunal marks a key milestone in this case as it now affords the banks an opportunity to answer for themselves”.