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Competition Commission files new charges against banks over rand manipulation

The new referral also expands the scope of the prosecution to include five more banks, including the Nedbank Group, Rand Merchant Bank and Standard Americas.

Competition Commission commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele. Picture: @CompComSA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - The Competition Commission has filed a new charge sheet with the Competition Tribunal against 28 banks accused of manipulating rand-dollar trading.

This is in line with the Competition Appeal Court ruling, which ordered that a new charge sheet be filed.

The commission said that following its investigation, it found that the banks, directly and indirectly, manipulated the trade of the rand-dollar currency pair.

The commission said that the matter related to collusion to fix prices and divide markets.

Some of the individual traders involved in this manipulation had been dismissed, but the commission said that the banks were yet to be held accountable.

This new referral follows the ruling by the Competition Appeal Court in February, which dismissed the banks' appeal that sought to obtain an order dismissing the commission's case against them.

The main contention of the banks was that the competition authorities do not have jurisdiction over their activities as they took place outside of South Africa, in New York City in particular.

But the CAC responded by saying the commission must simply file a new referral to replace all the previous ones to demonstrate that the behaviour of the banks has had a direct and immediate effect on the South African consumers and the economy.

The new referral also expands the scope of the prosecution to include five more banks, including the Nedbank Group, Rand Merchant Bank and Standard Americas.

The banks have been called on to respond.

"The banks must file their answers to these charges, which have now been further substantiated. These charges will not go away. Some of the individual traders involved in the currency manipulation have been dismissed, but their employers - the banks, are yet to be held accountable in South Africa. It is the responsibility of the South African authorities to get to the bottom of these serious allegations about the manipulation of our currency, wherever it occurred," said Competition Commission Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele.