It’s official: Absa won’t face punishment for rand price-fixing

The Competition Commission has granted Barclays Africa conditional immunity from prosecution in return for its continuing cooperation in the rand currency rigging probe according to a report by Reuters.

“We have a conditional agreement with them on immunity but this is subject to confirmation depending on the extent of their cooperation,”  the commission’s Tembinkosi Bonakele told a committee meeting of parliament on Tuesday.

This follows earlier reports that Absa would be granted immunity as the first bank to come forward on the price-fixing scheme and for further co-operation with regulators.

Standard Bank, Investec and Absa were among 17 international banking groups accused of ‘widespread’ collusion relating to the the price-fixing of the rand. Following an almost two-year investigation into the matter, the Competition Commission has now referred a collusion case to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution.

It has been alleged that currency traders have been buying and selling US dollars in exchange for the rand at fixed prices. This was accomplished by making false sales to drive up demand, or colluding to agree not to trade for specified periods of time.

In the case of the three South African banks, the Commission is seeking an order declaring payment of an administrative penalty equal to 10% of their annual turnover.

Read: Citibank to pay massive fine in SA currency trading collusion scandal

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It’s official: Absa won’t face punishment for rand price-fixing