Competition Commission won’t take it easy on banks hoping to settle on forex cartel matter

Tembinkosi Bonakele, head of the Competition Commission
Tembinkosi Bonakele, head of the Competition Commission

Johannesburg – Banks implicated in the forex cartel matter, should not expect the same kind of settlements the Competition Commission reached with other banks.

Spokesperson Sipho Ngema confirmed to Fin24 on Wednesday that the commission is still open to discussing settlements with banks.

Reuters reported earlier that commissioner Tembikinkosi Bonakele said that the watchdog would not be engaging with banks approaching it discreetly to reach settlements by offering their cooperation. Bonakele was speaking at a media breakfast hosted by the Gordon Institute of Business Science.

“The commission doesn’t rule out any possible settlement discussion with any bank in this litigation – what we are saying is that those who have wasted time and have sort to abuse the process must not expect the same as those who settled earlier,” Ngema said in an email.

Earlier this year, the commission completed its investigation on a complaint initiated in April 2015, and referred the case to the Competition Tribunal. Seventeen banks had been implicated, including three local banks, ABSA, Standard Bank and Investec.

Citigroup, which was implicated agreed to pay a R69.5m fine and said it would cooperate by making witnesses available to prosecute the other banks. ABSA had apologised for its involvement and the commission decided not to issue an administrative penalty against the bank.

The other banks however have argued that the commission has no jurisdiction over their currency traders in other parts of the world, City Press previously reported. In affidavits they indicate that there is no proof that if traders colluded it had an economic effect on South Africa.

Standard Bank, which conducted internal investigations also found that there is no evidence its currency trader had participated in the cartel, City Press reported.

The banks have also challenged the facts the commission relies on in its case. 

READ: How banks allegedly colluded on currency trades

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