Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
21 Apr 2017
5:51 am

Banks fingered in collusion saga now face criminal charges

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

The Black Economic Forum said the Competition Commission's decision to refer the banks to the tribunal was not enough.

Standard Bank initially indicated that they plan on closing 91 branches, with 1200 employers potentially losing their jobs. Picture: Moneyweb

Eighteen local and foreign banks accused of manipulating the rand-dollar exchange rate since at least 2007 face criminal charges after the Black Economic Forum (BEF) took the matter to the police in Durban on Thursday.

In a statement sent through the government communications and information services (GCIS) on Thursday, the organisation, which claims it has no affiliations with government, said it was “obliged to institute action with regards to issues that are in the interests of the unmasking and exposing of corporate ulterior motives”.

The GCIS was not available to clarify why the statement, sent earlier on Thursday, was issued by its media liaison department.

The banks, which include Absa Bank, Standard Bank and Investec among other major names, were recently found by the Competition Commission to have had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids in relation to currency trading involving the rand and US dollar.

The commission referred the case to the Competition Tribunal earlier this year.

It said traders’ platforms, such as Bloomberg’s instant messaging service, were used to manipulate the market.

But BEF says the process by the Competition Commission was not enough.

“The Competition Commission process is not taking cognisance of the criminal aspects to the actions by the banks,” said the organisation’s Ryan Bettridge.

“Contraventions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act and Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act have occurred. There needs to be implications.”

Bettridge also said that the directors involved needed to be deemed delinquent and removed from their respective boards, should they be found guilty.

“We want the law to be nonselective.

“The same laws must apply to rich and to poor. To date, there have been no criminal charges against the collusive companies or their leadership,” he said.

Competition Commission says major banks colluded, refers them for prosecution

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