More banks facing criminal charges in relation to ANZ cartel investigation

1 June 2018, Written by David Simmons

More banks facing criminal charges in relation to ANZ cartel investigation

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has confirmed that Deutsche Bank and Citibank will also face criminal charges in relation to alleged cartel conduct by ANZ Bank (ASX: ANZ).

The ACCC confirmed on Friday afternoon that Deutsche Bank AG is also facing criminal charges in relation to the share placement.

Investments bank Citibank has also confirmed that is has been served a notice from the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions that criminal charges are on the way. This has also been confirmed by the ACCC in a press release on Friday afternoon.

JPMorgan has reportedly been granted immunity from alleged criminal cartel conduct.

ANZ (ASX: ANZ) is facing charges by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions over an alleged arrangement of understanding between the joint lead managers of the institutional placement of 80.8 million shares.

In addition to ANZ, Deutsche Bank, and Citibank, the ACCC expects charges to be laid against ANZ treasurer Rick Moscati and other individuals involved.

In a statement sent to Business News Australia, Deutsch Bank says it intends to "vigorously" defend the allegations.

"Deutsche Bank confirms that it expects to be charged by the CDPP and ACCC in relation to an institutional share placement by ANZ, in which Deutsche Bank acted as joint underwriter with Citigroup and JPMorgan, in August 2015. Deutsche Bank intends to vigorously defend those charges," says Deutsche Bank.

"Given this is a legal matter, we will not be providing any further comment at this time."

"We take conduct matters extremely seriously and have cooperated fully with the ACCC during the investigation process."

"Financial markets are highly regulated under the Corporations Act and ASIC market integrity rules. The bank believes it and its staff acted responsibly and in a manner consistent with those rules."

A spokesperson from Citi says the bank "steadfastly" denies the allegations.

"Citi will vigorously defend these allegations on behalf of itself and its employees."

"This is a highly technical area and if the ACCC believes there are matters to address, these should be clarified by law or regulation or consultation."

ANZ, one of Australia's largest banks, is facing criminal charges over alleged cartel conduct related to a $2.5 billion share placement in 2015.

Allegedly, the placement of the shares, worth $2.5 billion, helped lift capital reserves to meet new regulatory requirements.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims says the charges will be laid following an investigation by the ACCC.

"The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015," says Sims.

"It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct."

The placement came after regulators said in 2015 that ANZ, and the other major Australian banks, needed to inject billions of dollars into their mortgage books to boost capital levels.

ANZ says it will defend itself and ANZ treasurer Rick Moscati against any criminal charges.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is also conducting their own investigation in relation to the placement. ASIC is looking into whether ANZ's announcement on 7 August 2015 should have stated the joint lead managers took up approximately 25.5 million shares of the placement, representing approximately 0.91 per cent of total shares on issue at the time.

ANZ chief risk officer Kevin Corbally says the bank is co-operating with ASIC and the ACCC in their investigation into the placement.

"We believe ANZ acted in accordance with the law in relation to the placement and on that basis the bank intends to defend both the company and our employee," says Corbally.

The ACCC says it will not make any further comment until charges are formally laid against the bank.

More to come.

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Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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