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ANZ, Macquarie admit to cartel conduct

AAP logoAAP 24/11/2016

ANZ and Macquarie Bank have agreed to pay a combined $15 million in fines for attempting to act as a cartel in setting the benchmark rate for the Malaysian ringgit.

ANZ has admitted to 10 instances of attempted cartel conduct and Macquarie to eight regarding attempts in 2011 by Singapore-based traders to co-ordinate submissions relating to the currency, contravening Australia's 2010 competition and consumer act.

The banks are co-operating with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which has initiated Federal Court proceedings over the allegations.

ANZ has agreed to pay $9 million plus costs and Macquarie $6 million, subject to a Federal Court decision on whether the punishments are appropriate.

"These proceedings are a reminder that Australian cartel laws apply to financial markets, and capture cartel conduct by firms that carry on business in Australia, regardless of where that conduct occurred," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

"The integrity of foreign exchange markets plays a fundamental role in our market economy."

ANZ said three employees unsuccessfully tried to influence the setting of benchmark rates on 10 occasions, but that none of them were still employed by the bank.

"While there is no evidence that FX benchmarks in Singapore were successfully influenced, we accept responsibility and apologise for the actions of our former employees," ANZ chief risk officer Nigel Williams said.

"We have made significant improvements to our compliance, training and monitoring systems to ensure this does not happen again."

The ACCC said one Macquarie trader was involved.

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