Forex rigging: more detail finally

The Competition Commission has cobbled together more detailed evidence demanded of it by banks almost a year ago in its case against their allegedly collusive currency traders. In a 61-page affidavit, the commission outlines ho 36 individuals with ties to 23 financial institutions conspired to rig trades involving the dollar-rand currency pair.

Claims of this collusion range from sharing information about customer orders to fixing prices, all with a view to get rid of competition and co-ordinating trading activity to boost profit for the trading clique.

The new information will strengthen the case of the commission, which has come under fire for being prematurely referred to the Competition Tribunal. Findings against banks in similar cases overseas, which is reported by Bloomberg to have resulted in more than $10 billion in penalties since 2013, may have bolstered it.

The Competition Commission first announced the investigation in April 2015, and referred the case, then against 18 banks, to the tribunal in February 2017. They were, however, met with a raft of exception applications as banks complained that the “vague and embarrassing” referral affidavit contained too little detail of their wrongdoing.

The commission, which is seeking fines equal to 10% of banks’ turnover, has joined five related party entities to the case on the basis that their initial omission was “inadvertent”.

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