Standard Bank‚ Absa Bank and many foreign-owned banks have been referred to the Competition Tribunal for price fixing. This move by the Competition Commission allows the banks to be fined up to 10% of their annual turnover.
The commission said in a press release that it has been investigating allegations that, from 2007, currency traders who were buying and selling US dollars in exchange for rand had fixed the price. They did this by allegedly making fictitious sales to drive up demand and change prices‚ or agreeing not to trade for a period of time.
The commission said the traders also assisted each other in reaching the desired prices by co-ordinating trading times — and that it wants the banks prosecuted and fined.
“The commission is seeking an order from the tribunal declaring that the respondents have contravened the Competition Act‚” it said. “Further‚ the commission is seeking an order declaring that the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch International‚ BNP Paribas‚ JP Morgan Chase‚ JP Morgan Chase Bank, Investec‚ Standard New York Securities‚ HSBC Bank‚ Standard Chartered Bank‚ Credit Suisse Group, Standard Bank of SA‚ Commerzbank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group‚ Nomura International‚ and Macquarie Bank are liable for the payment of an administrative penalty equal to 10% of their annual turnover.”
The commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele 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.”