Two Australian banks admit to ringgit cartel, to pay A$15m fines
SYDNEY: Two Australian banks have offered to pay fines for “cartel conduct” when trading foreign exchange contracts for Malaysia’s currency, the ringgit, in the latest controversy engulfing banks and their manipulation of foreign exchange rates.
Australia’s No. 1 investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd and top corporate lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd on Friday said they offered to pay fines totalling A$15 million (RM50 million). The two banks, however, will still face prosecution in Australia over the matter and, potentially, from overseas authorities.
The admission may provide further ammunition for a recent Malaysian government crackdown on foreign banks trading in the ringgit in offshore markets, seen by bankers as an attempt to curb a devaluation of the currency.
The two Australian banks said in separate statements they offered to pay the fines after the anti-trust agency started court proceedings over the companies’ actions in Singapore when trading foreign exchange contracts for the ringgit in 2011.
“These proceedings are a reminder that Australian cartel laws apply to financial markets, and capture cartel conduct by firms that carry on business in Australia, regardless of where that conduct occurred,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
Bank Negara Malaysia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. – Reuters