ANC coming down hard on banks implicated in price-fixing scandal

A finding by the South African antitrust regulator that more than a dozen local and worldwide banks colluded to rig foreign-currency trades will bolster government accusations that the nation's biggest lenders are monopolizing the financial system and failing to address racial inequality.

The Competition Commission said on Wednesday it had found the banks, including U.S., European, Japanese and Australian lenders, had colluded to coordinate their trading activities when dealing in the South African and U.S. currencies. Major worldwide banks have had to pay billions of dollars in fines since a global scandal in 2013 over rigging foreign exchange markets.

Implicated banks included Africa's Absa, Investec and Standard Bank.

In separate statements, South African banks Standard Bank and ABSA promised to co-operate with the commission Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas, Nomura and Standard New York Securities all declined to comment. Others are Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd, Commerzbank AG; Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Nomura International Plc., Macquarie Bank Limited, ABSA Bank Limited (ABSA), Barclays Capital Inc and Barclays Bank plc.

"If, during this process, any bank is found wanting and in contravention of the prevailing legislative and regulatory framework governing competition in South Africa, it must be addressed urgently by the relevant authorities and identified banks to maintain competition in the South African banking sector in the interests of consumers and further avoid risks associated herewith", Coovadia noted. "The fact that some banks may have been partly responsible for the weak and volatile rand through currency manipulation is deeply troubling", the organisation said on Thursday. "Without a doubt, it further raises a question of the extent to which the currency was manipulated with politically motivated intentions", spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

South Africa's central bank said it viewed the allegations as a serious matter and would allow proceedings to run their course. The three banks mentioned in the latest collusion case are Investec, Standard Bank and Absa.

He called on the government and all state institutions to disassociate themselves from the banks that are involved in collusion.

Some South Africans on Twitter have been using the hashtag #BanksCollusion to urge national media to intensify their reporting.

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