The National Treasury on Friday threw its weight behind the Competition Commission which will take 17 banks operating in South Africa to the Competitions Tribunal for prosecution on charges of collusion.

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“The National Treasury notes with concern the statement issued by the Competition Commission on the completion of an investigation into price fixing and market allocation by 17 banks, including three South African banks, all of which have an international footprint,” spokesperson Yolisa Tyantsi said in a statement.

The Competition Commission announced on Wednesday that it has concluded an investigation into price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency involving the South African rand, covering the period from 2007, and found that some banks have a case to answer.

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This process must be allowed to run its course without fear, prejudice or undue influence, the Treasury said.

“We view this matter in a very serious light and welcome any steps taken against wrong-doing by any financial institutions, and will respect whatever outcome of this process at the Competition Tribunal,” Tyantsi said.

If proven to be true, it would confirm the pervasiveness of unbridled greed within the ranks of the forex trading sections of banks even after evidence that such behavior has potential to collapse national and global financial systems and bring about immeasurable pain to ordinary people as evidenced by the deep recession of 2008-09 which was triggered by banks conducting their business recklessly, said the spokesperson.

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“This has to be punished and brought to an end,” he stressed.

It should be noted that these allegations, if proved to be correct, point to poor market conduct practices at such offending institutions, said Tyantsi.

The National Treasury will ensure that both the Treasury and all financial sector regulators will support the Competition Commission in any way possible should it request such assistance, he said.

The banks listed by the commission include Standard Bank, Investec, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, BNP Paribas SA, Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and Nomura as among those that participated in price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign-currency pairs involving the rand.

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The commission recommended the banks be fined 10 percent of their turnover, the maximum allowed. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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