An announcement made by the consumer watchdog of Australia claims that prosecution under criminal cartel charges would be initiated against financial institutions and banks including the ANZ, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup.
The case dates back to 2015 and pertains to the banks arranging to sell A$2.5 billion (£1.4 billion; $1.9 billion) worth of ANZ shares.
The charges would be contested by the banks, they said. Allegations against one of its employees would also be defended by ANZ, the bank said.
A national level investigation into alleged misconduct is being carried out against multiple payers in the scandal-plagued financial sector of Australia.
the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that a number of “other individuals” are also anticipated to be charged by prosecutors.
“The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015,” chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
“It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct.”
No further details of the cases were provided by the consumer watchdog at this stage of investigations and prosecution.
The charges against ANZ – which is amongst the largest four or the “big four” banks of Australia, include the placement of 80.8 million shares.
The deal was a part of the efforts of ANZ to raise capital to that it could meet regulatory requirements and the deal was underwritten by global financial giants Deutsche Bank, Citigroup and JP Morgan.
According to ANZ, the regulatory investigation is to decide whether the bank should have said that the 25.5 million shares of the placement were already taken up by “joint lead managers”.
The bank said that about 0.91 per cent of the total shares on issue was accounted for by the shares.
According to the ACCC, when banks gang up together to drive up profit instead of acting against each other or competing with each other, it can be referred to as a cartel.
ANZ is of the view that nothing unlawful said had bene done by it or its group treasurer, Rick Moscati and added that the it would also cooperate with the investigation.
Citigroup said in a statement that the allegations were “highly technical” and involved “an area of financial markets activity that has not been considered by any Australian court” or by regulators.”
Over the last decade there have been a number of scandal that have rocked the Australian banking and financial services industry.
Evidence of rampant industry misconduct have bene heard by the royal commission inquiry, which began in February.
(Adapted from BBC.com)