Rand-rigging scandal: Some banks dropped, others to be charged

Johannesburg - The Competition Commission will withdraw charges against some of the banks it recommended be be fined following an investigation into rand-rigging concluded earlier this year, according to Standard Bank.

The antitrust regulator will revoke its complaint against some lenders and will accuse other banks of collusion and manipulation of currency trades instead, Ian Sinton, general counsel for the Johannesburg-based lender, said in an emailed response to questions on Tuesday.

Standard Bank, which was among those named in February, declined to say which banks may be removed and which lenders could be added.

Fourteen banking entities, including HSBC Holdings Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. were named by the commission in February as having been allegedly involved in illegal rand trades.

Barclays Africa Group Ltd. was exempt because it blew the whistle on the traders’ alleged actions while Citigroup agreed to pay a R69.5m ($5.4m) fine for its alleged role. Some of the banks said in legal documents in May that the commission’s complaint was vague and embarrassing.

Sipho Ngwema, a spokesperson for the Pretoria-based Competition Commission, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message or emailed questions seeking comment.

JPMorgan and Commerzbank AG declined to comment and Credit Suisse and Investec Plc said they couldn’t immediately comment.

Standard Chartered didn’t immediately respond to emailed questions.

According to Standard Bank’s Sinton, representatives of the accused banks and the Competition Commission agreed on June 23 to cancel formal hearings scheduled to start on July 20 so that the regulator has time to amend its complaint.

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