Nedbank, Rand Merchant Bank join 28 banks charged with rand manipulation

South Africa’s antitrust authorities have charged 28 international and local banks which now include Nedbank and Rand Merchant Bank for manipulating the rand exchange rate.

The Competition Commission filed its new charge sheet against the banks with the Competition in line with an earlier ruling, it said on Tuesday. 

The case against the banks for colluding to fix prices, divide markets in the rand/dollar exchange goes back as far as 2015. Last year, the banks scored what was considered a partial victory when the Competition Appeal Court ruled that the commission had to file a new charge sheet that provided additional clarification.

In February, however, the CAC dismissed an appeal by several banks that sought an order dismissing the Competition's case against them. The banks had contended that SA's competition authorities did not have jurisdiction over their activities that took place outside of the country.

The new referral provides more details on the operations of the currency manipulation cartel, its effects on South Africa and expands the scope of the prosecution to include five more banks such as FirstRand and Standard Americas, the Commission said in its statement.

"The banks must file their answers to these charges, which have now been further substantiated. These charges will not go away," Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele said.

"Some of the individual traders involved in the currency manipulation have been dismissed, but their employers - the banks, are yet to be held accountable in South Africa. It is the responsibility of the South African authorities to get to the bottom of these serious allegations about the manipulation of our currency, wherever it occurred."

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