Forex collusion case back in the spotlight at Competition Tribunal

The Competition Tribunal will on Wednesday release an order with reasons on various pre-trial applications brought from several banks in the forex collusion case.

The matter dates back to 2017 when the Competition Commission referred a collusion case involving 17 banks to the Tribunal. The commission, since April 2015, had investigated price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency pairs involving the rand. Three domestic banks – Absa, Standard Bank and Investec were among those named, Fin24 previously reported.

The other 14 banks are Bank of America Merrill Lynch International, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase & Co, JP Morgan Chase Bank, Standard New York Securities, HSBC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse Group, Commerzbank, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Nomura International, Macquarie Bank, Citibank, Barclays Capital and Barclays Bank.

At the time the commission said it found that from at least 2007, the respondents 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 US dollar/rand currency pair.

Citibank had agreed to pay a R69.5m fine, while Absa – which apologised for its involvement and agreed to help the regulator with its investigation – was not fined, Bloomberg previously reported.

Earlier this year, before a New York authority, Standard Chartered had pleaded guilty to manipulating currencies between 2007 and 2013.

The bank had reached a consent agreement with the New York State Department of Financial Services to pay $40m (about R530m), Fin24 reported.

Locally, litigation against banks has been ongoing since 2017 but a date has not been set for the main hearing before the Tribunal.

Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele has previously criticised banks for bringing exception applications ahead of the case as an effort to wear down the commission, City Press previously reported.

Various banks have raised different issues in their pre-trial applications, a spokesperson from the Tribunal confirmed. The Tribunal's order will not be the outcome of the main trial. Fin24 understands that the pre-trial order will settle any legal issues before the main trial is heard. 

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