S.African rand-rigging cases could conclude in July – source

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By Joe Brock | JOHANNESBURG

JOHANNESBURG Sixteen banks accused of colluding
to rig South Africa’s rand currency could go before the
Competition Tribunal to conclude the case in July, after a
private pre-hearing was held on Friday, a source at the
country’s Competition Commission said.

The Commission said last month that it had found traders at
more than a dozen local and foreign banks colluded to coordinate
dealing in the South African and U.S. currencies.

All the banks named in the probe met on Friday with the
Commission and the tribunal panel which will hear the case.
Dates for hearings and possible arguments and objections against
the ruling were discussed, the source said.

“It was cordial but clearly some banks are going to raise
objections. Things are moving fast. A tribunal in July is
possible but there could be delays,” the source said.

Barclays and Citigroup previously approached
South Africa’s competition regulators with information linked to
the case and Citigroup was fined 69.5 million rand ($5.25
million) last month for its role.

Citigroup will face a separate hearing on March 22 when the
agreed fine is expected to be ratified as a final settlement,
although the tribunal could recommend changes, the source said.

“Since we haven’t had any more settlements we can assume the
majority of banks are going to oppose the ruling,” the source
said.

The other banks named in the case are, Nomura,
Standard Bank, Investec, JP Morgan,
BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse Group, Commerzbank
AG, Standard New York Securities Inc, Macquarie Bank
, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML), ANZ
Banking Group Ltd and Standard Chartered Plc.

The Commission alleged that from at least 2007 traders had a
general agreement to collude on prices for bids, offers and
bid-offer spreads for the spot trades in relation to currency
trading involving the dollar and rand currency.

Traders manipulated the price of bids and offers through
agreements to refrain from trading and creating fictitious bids
and offers at particular times, the Commission said.
($1 = 13.2275 rand)



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