Standard Bank denied request to access records in forex case

Cape Town - The Competition Tribunal has said it will not yet give Standard Bank a copy of the records of the Competition Commission’s investigation into alleged rand dollar currency manipulation by banks. 

Standard bank had asked the Tribunal to rule it could access the records of the Commission’s investigations into alleged currency manipulation. 

The Commission first announced in 2015 that it would refer allegations of collusion to artificially fix the price of the rand by 14 banks to the Competition Tribunal for judgment.

Banks the Commission included in its probe include major players such as BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase & Co and the Credit Suisse Group. 

The case has been dragging on since then.   

READ: Rand-rigging collusion probe widens

On September 18 the Tribunal ruled that Standard Bank was not yet entitled to the record. On Monday it released its decision. 

Not yet 

The Commission, which carries out investigations into allegations of unfair business practices, had refused to produce records of its forex investigation earlier this year when Standard Bank asked for it. 

It had argued that, as the bank was a "litigant in the Forex case it was not entitled to the record yet”.

Standard Bank then approached the Tribunal, which rules on competition matters referred to it by the Commission, in an effort to compel the Commission to release the report.

In a statement on Monday, the Tribunal said that it would place an undue burden on the Commission to provide Standard Bank with all the details. 

“On the facts of the present Forex case, given the length of the record, the extent of confidential information in it, and the burden it would place on the Commission in preparing it, a reasonable time for production would be at the same time as discovery is made in the Forex case,” the Tribunal said in a statement. 

Well, when? 

The Tribunal said that none of the 14 respondent banks had yet filed their answering affidavits. 

This was because the Tribunal had received objections from some banks on whether it has jurisdiction over them and “whether the referral contains sufficient specificity”. 

READ: Banks depict rand probe as vague, embarrassing

These objections will be heard between 24 to 26 January 2018. If the case does then go ahead, the banks will be asked to submit their answering affidavits.  

The Tribunal said that this is the stage at which discovery usually takes place, meaning the banks will likely only receive the Competition Commission’s records of investigation once they have filed their answering documents. 

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