Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Investec says that the complaint referral lodged against it by the Competition Commission for alleged price collusion is confined to the conduct of a single trader employed by the bank.

"The bank intends to seek further information from the Competition Commission with respect to the specifics of the charges in order to continue to co-operate with them in this regard," Investec said in a brief statement.

Investec is one of 16 local and international banks the commission said on Wednesday that it was prosecuting for colluding to fix prices. Other local banks, which could face fines of up to 10% of their annual turnover if found guilty, include Standard Bank and Absa.

The commission will also prosecute mega-banks Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse and Nomura.

The commission found the banks breached the Competition Act by generally agreeing to collude on the prices dealers at these banks quoted to customers to buy the rand or dollar (offers) and the prices these dealers paid for these currencies on the market (bids). The dealers also colluded on the difference between the two prices, known as the bid-offer spread.

Dealers allegedly manipulated their bids and offers through agreements to refrain from trading, sometimes creating fictitious bids and offers, and using messaging platforms, such as Bloomberg instant messaging, to co-ordinate their activities.

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said the referral of the case would give the banks an opportunity to "answer for themselves".

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