South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) has expressed that the rand price-fixing collusion was politically motivated.
It was yesterday that the Competition Commission divulge that it has been investigating a case of rand price-fixing. The investigations started in April 2015, and now, the commission has referred the case to the Tribunal for prosecution.
As learnt, the Commission found that from at least 2007, the banks had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids, offers and bid-offer spreads for the spot trades in relation to currency trading involving US Dollar / Rand currency pair.
That’s not all, it was also uncovered that the banks manipulated the price of bids and offers through agreements to refrain from trading and creating fictitious bids and offers at particular times.
In a media statement, the Commission said:
“Traders of the respondents (banks) primarily used trading platforms such as the Reuters currency trading platform to carry out their collusive activities.
They also used Bloomberg instant messaging system (chatroom), telephone conversation and had meetings to coordinate their bilateral and multilateral collusive trading activities.
They assisted each other to reach the desired prices by coordinating trading times.
They reached agreements to refrain from trading, taking turns in transacting and by either pulling or holding trading activities on the Reuters currency trading platform.
They also created fictitious bids and offers, distorting demand and supply in order to achieve their profit motives.”
Based on the above, the Commission referred a collusion case to the Tribunal for prosecution against the under-listed banks.
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch International Limited
- JP Morgan Chase & Co
- JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A
- 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 (ABSA)
- Barclays Capital Inc
- Barclays Bank plc
Reacting to the rand price-fixing revelations, ANC rejoiced that the ethical crisis in the South African banking sector has been exposed.
The ruling party asserted that the manipulation of rand is an attack on the constitutional mandate of the South African Reserve Bank to protect the value of the South African currency.
“The profit-driven assault on the South African rand through such collusion and corruption by the banks flies in the face of efforts by the South African nation to (enable) prosperity for all.
“It is further an indication of how the markets are and can be manipulated by dominant oligopolies to cripple its functioning to suit their nefarious agendas.
“Without a doubt, (it) further raises a question of the extent to which the currency was manipulated with politically motivated intentions,” ANC stated.
The party promised that it will closely follow the developments in the case and urged the Competitions Tribunal to level against the banks the harshest possible sanction that will serve as a deterrent to other entities involved in similar activities.
“With the same vigor and zeal directed at public sector corruption, we must be unrelenting in fighting private sector corruption.
“The ANC commends the fortitude of the Competition Commission in exposing the unethical operations of established monopolies in different sectors of our economy.
“This we say in view of the fact that this probe into the Banks follows similar incidents involving the fixing of bread prices and the collusion of big companies in major construction projects,” added the party.
Ultimately, ANC called on government to immediately diversify the financial services sector, introduce new players and irreversibly transform the industry to favour South Africans.