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Competition Commission confident of case against 17 banks

The commission says it has evidence 17 banks faked bids to distort supply and demand of the currency.

Money. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG – The Competition Commission says it's confident of its case against 17 banks accused of manipulating the currency because it has evidence that they faked bids to distort supply and demand.

It announced on Wednesday that it referred the case against the banks to the Competition Tribunal, but says it does expect settlements to be reached.

The banks include local institutions like Absa Bank, Standard Bank and Investec as well as international banks like JPMorgan Chase, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.

Competition Commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele says they're completely sure of their case.

“It would not make sense at all to defend a case like this. It’s very strong and I would expect that a lot of banks would do the right thing and settle it.”

He says they want to make sure this cannot happen again.

“We always like it when we get into the industry that not only do we fine people, but that the conduct is stamped out completely, and this is what we would expect the banks to do.”

The commission says the banks had been co-ordinating their trades, creating false bids, and communicating their intentions through the Bloomberg instant messaging service to distort the market.

The banks named in the case are:

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited

  • BNP Paribas

  • JP Morgan Chase & Co

  • JP Morgan Chase Bank NA

  • Investec Ltd

  • Standard New York Securities Inc

  • HSBC Bank Plc

  • Standard Chartered Bank

  • Credit Suisse Group

  • Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd

  • Commerzbank AG

  • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited

  • Nomura International Plc

  • Macquarie Bank Limited

  • ABSA Bank Limited

  • Barclays Capital Inc

  • Barclays Bank plc

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)