Macquarie, ANZ to pay $11 million penalties over Malaysia rates

by AB28 Nov 2016
(Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Bank Ltd. and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. have agreed to pay a combined A$15 million ($11 million) in penalties after admitting to attempted cartel conduct relating to the setting of a benchmark Malaysian rate in 2011.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said in a statement Friday that Melbourne-based ANZ had admitted to 10 instances of alleged cartel conduct and Sydney-based Macquarie to eight. They offered to pay A$9 million and A$6 million in penalties respectively, the ACCC said.

The case involved Singapore-based traders communicating via private online chat rooms about daily submissions on the Malaysian ringgit fixing rate to be made to the Association of Banks in Singapore, the ACCC said in the statement.

Macquarie said in a separate statement that no senior management or any other staff members were aware of the conduct of a former junior employee, who was fired in 2012. ANZ said in a statement that three of its employees had “unsuccessfully attempted to influence the setting of benchmark rates” used to settle non-deliverable forward foreign- exchange contracts for the ringgit and were no longer employed at the bank.

Australia’s Federal Court will decide whether the agreed penalties are appropriate, the ACCC said.

ANZ said the matter was previously investigated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, “which completed a review and supervisory action in 2013 involving 20 banks operating in Singapore.”

“While there is no evidence that FX benchmarks in Singapore were successfully influenced, we accept responsibility and apologize for the actions of our former employees,” ANZ Chief Risk Officer Nigel Williams said in the statement. “We have made significant improvements to our compliance, training and monitoring systems to ensure this does not happen again.”

Macquarie said it hadn’t “engaged in any conduct affecting the benchmark” or “obtained any benefit from the attempted behavior.” The bank noted that it had since boosted its “e-communication surveillance globally, improved trade monitoring and intensified training for its front office staff.”