American bank wants SA’s “vague and embarrassing” rand-rigging probe dropped: report

A number of the banks implicated in the deliberate rigging of South Africa’s rand have called for the probe instituted by the Competition Commission to be amended or dropped, as the official complaint submitted by the Commission was “vague and embarassing”, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“The commission has failed to plead the material facts necessary to sustain the allegation that there was an agreement, or agreements between the lenders of colluding banks to fix the value of the currency,” said lawyers for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

“The necessary details of any such agreement(s) — i.e., when, where, how and by whom they were concluded — are also lacking.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch was named alongside 13 other banks as respondents in the Competition Commission’s complaint. Two South African banks, Investec and Standard Bank, have been implicated in the probe – while Absa bank has received full exemption from penalties as it was the whistle-blower who called attention to the collusion.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Competition spokesperson Sipho Ngwema noted that some banks had already agreed to settle and admit liability with the Commission, with more banks currently in the process of reaching a settlement.

“If there are those who think they can kick for touch, and engage in delaying tactics – time is going to catch up,” said Ngwema.

“We have presented the basis of our case at the tribunal and they must engage on the merits. Interestingly, I am not aware of any of them that have denied involvement in the cartel.”

Read: 3 South African banks face massive fines for price-fixing and collusion

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American bank wants SA’s “vague and embarrassing” rand-rigging probe dropped: report