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SA anti-trust watchdog plans July hearing on banks in collusion case

The Competition Commission said last month it had found more than a dozen local and foreign banks had colluded to co-ordinate trading in the rand and the US dollar.

Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Competition Tribunal will hold a hearing in July where banks accused of colluding to rig the rand currency will make their submissions, the anti-trust body said on Thursday.

The Competition Commission said last month it had found more than a dozen local and foreign banks had colluded to coordinate trading in the rand and the US dollar using an instant chat room called ZAR Domination, a reference to the rand's official currency market code.

The banks involved include Absa, Standard Bank, Investec, HSBC and Nomura International plc.

The Competition Commission has found that from about 2007 these banks had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids, offers and bid-offer spreads for spot trades in relation to currency trading involving the rand and the dollar.

It's understood the banks helped each other to reach the desired prices by co-coordinating their trading times - and created fake bids and offers - to distort demand and supply, while also apparently taking turns in transacting by either pulling or holding trades.

Several political parties and President Jacob Zuma spoke out after the case emerged.

The president expressed government's commitment to protect the country's economy against market abuse, price fixing and collusion.

The EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party would write to the South African Reserve Bank to demand the licenses of the implicated institutions be revoked.

“This must go as one of the important evidence to the fact of nationalisation.”

Meanwhile, the African National Congress called for the harshest possible sanctions to deal with collusion.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)