IN­NO­CENT

The bank, claim­ing it has re­ceived no ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing, is seek­ing to com­pel the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion to pro­vide it

CityPress - - Business & Tenders -

Do you trust banks to con­duct their own in­ter­nal au­dits if they have been ac­cused of wrong­do­ing? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word FOREX and tell us what you think. In­clude your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50 fact that it was al­leged to be in­volved ... through the com­mis­sion’s press re­lease on Fe­bru­ary 15 2017.”

Mei­jer com­plains that the bank “was not pro­vided the cour­tesy even of ac­cess to the re­fer­ral af­fi­davit be­fore a me­dia re­lease con­tain­ing dam­ag­ing al­le­ga­tions was sent out”.

Stan­dard Bank lawyers wrote to the com­mis­sion the next week, say­ing it would pre­fer “to en­gage con­struc­tively ... but was in no po­si­tion to mean­ing­fully en­gage with the com­mis­sion, since it had not been pro­vided with any ev­i­dence of the con­duct in which it was al­leged to have en­gaged”.

They went on to state: “In the short time since the com­mis­sion’s press re­lease ... in­ter­nal in­quiries have been made and, at this stage, Stan­dard Bank SA has found no ev­i­dence of im­proper or un­law­ful con­duct.”

The com­mis­sion’s Mfundo Ngob­ese wrote back, say­ing the now pub­licly avail­able re­fer­ral con­tained enough in­for­ma­tion to al­low Stan­dard Bank “to plead or con­sider its po­si­tion”.

The re­fer­ral had iden­ti­fied one Stan­dard Bank trader, Bryn Brown­rigg, as hav­ing col­luded with traders at the other banks.

Even though the forex in­ves­ti­ga­tion was ini­tially an­nounced in 2015, that an­nounce­ment men­tioned only 11 banks, which did not in­clude Stan­dard Bank.

In Au­gust last year, the com­mis­sion amended its in­ves­ti­ga­tion to in­clude more banks, but ac­cord­ing to Stan­dard Bank, it did not re­alise at the time that it was even a re­spon­dent.

This is be­cause the com­mis­sion’s amend­ment cited Stan­dard Bank only in an an­nex­ure to the ap­pli­ca­tion form for that amend­ment.

So, Stan­dard Bank says it missed the fact that it was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

In another devel­op­ment this week, the tri­bunal made its set­tle­ment agree­ment with Citibank, re­lat­ing to the bank’s in­volve­ment in the forex trad­ing car­tel, an or­der.

In the agree­ment, Citibank ad­mit­ted that between 2007 and 2013, it had col­luded with its com­peti­tors in re­spect of spot trad­ing of rand currency pairs, in con­tra­ven­tion of the Com­pe­ti­tion Act.

In terms of the agree­ment, Citibank has agreed to pay a penalty of R69.5 mil­lion.

Citibank has also agreed to fully co­op­er­ate with the com­mis­sion in re­la­tion to the pros­e­cu­tion of the other banks named in the currency rig­ging mat­ter.

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