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Australia: Federal Court imposes heavy fines in cartel case

 |  December 14, 2016

The Federal Court has ordered ANZ Bank and Macquarie Bank to pay a combined $15 million in fines after they admitted to several instances of attempted cartel conduct, tagged as “deliberate and systematic” by the court.

The development shores up an agreement reached between the competition watchdog and the two banks designed to settle the issue, with a $9m penalty for ANZ and a $6m charge for Macquarie.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had instituted proceedings amid assertions attempts were made to influence the benchmark Malaysian ringgit fixing rate on a number of occasions in 2011.

Ahead of the Federal Court ruling, ANZ had conceded 10 instances of attempted cartel conduct and Macquarie had admitted to eight.

In his judgment today Justice Michael Wigney labelled the actions of the traders as a “very serious” conduct breach.

“There could be little doubt that the attempted contraventions … were very serious … The conduct of the traders in question was deliberate and systematic,” he said.

“Attempts by banks and other market participants to fix prices or financial benchmarks in the financial system should be regarded as particularly serious contravening conduct. It is essential that market participants and the public generally have confidence in the integrity and efficacy of the financial system.”

ACCC chairman Rod Sims echoed similar sentiments, issuing a sharp rebuke to the banking giants.

“Two significant Australian banks have admitted that on several occasions their traders communicated with other banks in an attempt to influence the ABS MYR Fixing Rate. This conduct had the potential to undermine the integrity of foreign exchange markets and undermine healthy economic growth,” he said.

Full Content: FiNews

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