ANZ accused of 'alleged cartel arrangements'

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Criminal cartel charges are expected to be laid against ANZ, even though the bank said it “acted in accordance with the law”.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced today that “criminal cartel charges are expected to be laid by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) against ANZ, ANZ group treasurer Rick Moscati, two other companies and a number of other individuals”.

These expected charges are the result of an ACCC investigation.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the expected charges involved “alleged cartel arrangements” relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015.

“It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct,” Mr Sims said.

ANZ responds

ANZ revealed in a statement today that it learned of the expected charges yesterday (31 May).

“The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions advised ANZ late yesterday that it intends to commence proceedings against the bank for being knowingly concerned in alleged cartel conduct by the joint lead managers of ANZ’s underwritten institutional equity placement of approximately 80.8 million shares in August 2015,” the bank announced.

“The proceedings relate to an arrangement or understanding allegedly made between the joint lead managers in relation to the supply of ANZ shares.”

ANZ said that it is also cooperating with an investigation into that placement by ASIC, the financial services regulator.

“ASIC is investigating whether ANZ’s announcement of 7 August 2015 should have stated the joint lead managers took up approximately 25.5 million shares of the placement. This represented approximately 0.91 per cent of total shares on issue at that time,” according to ANZ.

ANZ chief risk officer Kevin Corbally said: “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.”

One of the ACCC’s roles is to investigate cartel conduct. The ACCC refers serious cartel conduct to the CDPP for consideration of prosecution.

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A property and personal finance writer, Nick Bendel covers property, loans, credit cards, superannuation, and other bank products. Nick has previously written for The Adviser, Mortgage Business, Lifehacker, Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, and InvestorDaily, and loves getting elbow-deep in the latest ABS, APRA and RBA data.


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