SOUTH AFRICAN BANKS ACCUSED IN FOREX TRADING COLLUSION APPEAR BEFORE COMPETITION TRIBUNAL

JOHANNESBURG-- Lawyers representing 23 banks operating in South Africa which have been accused of manipulating the exchange rate of the South African Rand against the US dollar say the Competition Commission's case has not shown sufficient evidence of anti-competitive conduct.

The banks on Monday made an application to the Competition Tribunal to dismiss the charges against them after being referred by the Commission for prosecution.

Some foreign banks say the Commission does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute them because they do not have offices in South Africa.

The lead counsel, speaking on behalf of the banks, say the Competition Commission does not have material evidence against them and that its case is vague. Six foreign banks say the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to prosecute them.

The Competition Commission launched its investigation in April 2015.

So far Absa Bank, one of the biggest South African financial services groups, has received immunity after it was given leniency from prosecution. The Commission has also reached a settlement agreement with City Bank for being part of the foreign exchange (forex) trading cartel and paid a fine of nearly 70 million Rand (about 5.31 million US dollars).

The Competition Commission has rejected claims that it does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute the foreign banks which do not have offices in South Africa.

The head ofthe Commission's Cartel Division, Makgale Mohlala, said: "The Rand is the currency of South Africa and when you manipulate it the effects are felt in South Africa. So on that basis we have the jurisdiction to prosecute them.

The Competition Commission wants the implicated banks to pay an administrative penalty fee of 10 per cent of their turnover and it is optimistic that the tribunal will rule in its favour.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK