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Australia's Macquarie, ANZ to pay fines over Malaysian ringgit 'cartel'

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Australia's No.1 investment bank Macquarie Group and top corporate lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd on Friday said they will pay fines totalling A$15 million (S$15.9 million) for"cartel conduct".

[SYDNEY] Australia’s No.1 investment bank Macquarie Group and top corporate lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group on Friday said they offered to pay fines totalling A$15 million (S$15.9 million) for “cartel conduct” in Singapore. 

The banks said in separate statements they would pay the fines after the antitrust agency started court proceedings over actions taken by the banks in Singapore when trading foreign exchange contracts for the Malaysian 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,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. 

Traders from Macquarie, ANZ and other banks communicated in private online chatrooms about their daily submissions to the Association of Banks in Singapore in relation to the benchmark rate for the Malaysian currency, the ACCC said.  

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The traders “attempted to make arrangements” about making “high or low submissions” to the Singapore authority, which would then set the daily exchange rate for contracts in the currency within the country.  ANZ admitted to 10 instances of cartel conduct by three employees, all of whom had left the company.

“While there is no evidence that FX benchmarks in Singapore were successfully influenced, we accept responsibility and apologise for the actions of our former employees,” ANZ Chief Risk Officer Nigel Williams said. 

Macquarie said it terminated the junior employee involved in the actions in 2012, and that “no Macquarie senior management or any other Macquarie employees were involved in or aware of the conduct”. 

Both banks said they had offered to pay the fines, but the ACCC said it was up to the court to decide what penalties were appropriate.

REUTERS

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