CityPress - - Business & Tenders - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­

In­ter­nal “in­quiries” found no ev­i­dence that a currency trader em­ployed by Stan­dard Bank did, in fact, par­tic­i­pate in the al­leged for­eign ex­change price-fix­ing car­tel com­pris­ing 18 banks, the bank said this week. The bank has made an ur­gent ap­pli­ca­tion to the Com­pe­ti­tion Tri­bunal to com­pel the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion to pro­duce its record of ev­i­dence against the banks, or at least against Stan­dard Bank.

This fol­lows an ini­tial re­quest for de­tails of the ev­i­dence against it. The re­quest was sent on Fe­bru­ary 22 – a week after it was an­nounced that this case was be­ing re­ferred to the tri­bunal.

With­out this in­for­ma­tion, Stan­dard Bank claims it can­not en­gage or co­op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, with the in­ten­tion of se­cur­ing le­niency when fines get handed out.

Another ac­cused bank, Lon­don-based HSBC, has also filed its re­spond­ing papers at the tri­bunal.

These are not yet pub­licly avail­able but, in a me­dia state­ment is­sued this week, the com­mis­sion said the bank claimed that it had been falsely ac­cused.

The banks and the com­mis­sion have al­ready agreed to a two-day hear­ing in July, where the for­eign banks in par­tic­u­lar will ar­gue that the tri­bunal has no ju­ris­dic­tion over their currency traders, who are not based in South Africa.

The banks also have un­til Wed­nes­day to file fur­ther ex­emp­tions they may have.

“The com­mis­sion be­lieves that the case against the banks is very clear from its papers, and we will be re­sist­ing any at­tempts to de­lay pro­ceed­ings at the tri­bunal on the ba­sis of tech­ni­cal­i­ties,” said Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sioner Tem­binkosi Bon­akele.

Ac­cord­ing to Stan­dard Bank, how­ever, it is the com­mis­sion that is de­lay­ing things by fail­ing to pro­duce the record of ev­i­dence from the start of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, in April 2015.

The probe cov­ers al­leged col­lu­sion from as far back as 2007.

In an af­fi­davit sub­mit­ted this week, Jean Mei­jer, Stan­dard Bank’s at­tor­ney in the forex case, said the com­mis­sion “can­not rea­son­ably con­tend that the pro­duc­tion of the record in this mat­ter is not a task that ought to re­ceive its ur­gent at­ten­tion”.

This week’s ap­pli­ca­tion con­tains let­ters ex­changed between the bank and the com­mis­sion, in which Stan­dard Bank be­comes more and more in­sis­tent about ob­tain­ing the ev­i­dence against it.

Mei­jer also claims that the com­mis­sion blind sided Stan­dard Bank by in­clud­ing it among the 18 banks be­ing charged in the first place.

“Ex­traor­di­nar­ily, Stan­dard Bank be­came aware of the

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