Public Interest SA bays for the blood of British bank Standard Chartered

The Competition Commission has since announced that the bank admitted to manipulating the Rand-US Dollar exchange rate and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R42.7 million. But the organisation maintains that the commission's stance against the bank is lenient.

FILE: A Standard Chartered bank in Hong Kong. picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG- Non-profit organisation Public Interest SA says it’s “underwhelmed” by the settlement agreement reached between the Competition Commission and UK bank Standard Chartered.

Standard Chartered is one of more than two dozen banks that have been implicated in a scheme involving the manipulation of the Rand-US dollar exchange rate between 2007 and 2013.

Last week, the commission announced the bank had admitted to fixing bids, offers, bid-offer spreads, the spot exchange rate and the exchange rate - among other things - and that it had agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R42.7 million.
The commission’s welcomed the outcome but Public Interest SA says the fine appears insufficient.

Public Interest SA’s expressed concerns around the severity of Standard Chartered’s conduct and its impact on the economy.

And the organisation maintains that the Competition Commission should have pursued punitive damages against the bank.

It’s also called on the legislature to implement “more robust consequences against errant financial institutions” -
including potentially fining executives in their personal capacities.

The organisation says manipulation of currencies is increasingly employed as a tactic against emerging markets like
South Africa, describing this as an “insidious practice” that it says, “represents a contemporary method utilised by greedy economic actors, reminiscent of economic hitmen, who operate under the guise of corporate entities”.