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BEE group to lay charges against banks over forex fixing scandal

Eighteen local and foreign banks have been accused of manipulating the rand-dollar exchange rate since at least 2007.

Eighteen local and foreign banks have been accused of manipulating the rand-dollar exchange rate since at least 2007.

JOHANNESBURG – The Black Empowerment Foundation says it is heading to a police station in Durban on Thursday to lay criminal charges against the banks embroiled in a forex fixing scandal.

Eighteen local and foreign banks, including Absa Bank, Investec, Standard Bank, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Nomura Bank, have been accused of manipulating the rand-dollar exchange rate since at least 2007.

Following an investigation, the Competition Commission referred the case to the Competition Tribunal earlier this year.

The Commission said traders used many platforms, including Bloomberg's instant messaging service, to distort the market.

It found that from at least 2007 the banks had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids in relation to currency trading involving the rand and US dollar.

Citibank has paid an administrative penalty of R69.5 million for its involvement.

But the Foundation's Zola Qoboshiyane says that is not enough.

“They are arranging now, or proposing, for a soft payment. That is a criminal offence, so therefore we are opening a criminal case on that. The law will take its course like with any other person committing fraud.”

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