ANZ and Macquarie Bank fined a combined $15 million for attempted currency price fixing

A street-side vendor in Kuala Lumpu. Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

The Federal Court today fined the ANZ and Macquarie Bank for cartel behaviour by their currency traders.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) says a trader at Macquarie, traders at ANZ and a number of other banks in Singapore used private online chatrooms to discuss the benchmark rate for the Malaysian ringgit.

Justice Wigney today fined the ANZ $9 million and Macquarie $6 million.

The banks were also ordered to contribute to the ACCC’s costs.

“Two significant Australian banks have admitted that on several occasions their traders communicated with other banks in an attempt to influence the ABS (Association of Banks in Singapore) MYR (Malaysian ringgit) Fixing Rate,” says ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.

“Australia’s strong cartel laws apply equally across the economy, including in the banking sector.”

In his judgment, Justice Wigney said the conduct of the traders was deliberate and systematic.

“Attempts by banks and other market participants to fix prices or financial benchmarks in the financial system should be regarded as particularly serious contravening conduct,” he said.

“It is essential that market participants and the public generally have confidence in the integrity and efficacy of the financial system.”

The court was told that during 2011, ANZ and Macquarie traders attempted to make arrangements with other banks to make high or low submissions to the ABS MYR Fixing Rate. The rate would ultimately affect settlement payments for MYR denominated non-deliverable forward contracts.

The ACCC estimates that the annual MYR non-deliverable forward turnover in Australia is $9 billion to 10 billion.

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