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South Africa watchdog accuses banks of rigging the rand

South Africa

More than a dozen banks have been accused of rigging the price of South Africa’s currency, the rand.

The country’s Competition Commission identified the lenders, which include HSBC and Barclays, of having participated in price fixing and market allocation in the trading of foreign currency pairs involving the rand since at least 2007.

It referred the case to an antitrust tribunal, concluding an investigation that began in 2015.

The 17 banks are now likely to face prosecution at South Africa’s Competition Tribunal.

South Africa’s central bank said in a statement it viewed the allegations as a serious matter and would allow proceedings to run their course.

Some 30 percent of daily turnover in the rand takes place in South Africa, of which foreigners account for 58 percent.

In April 2016, the daily average worldwide foreign-exchange trading involving the rand was about $49 billion, it said, citing Bank for International Settlements data, representing 1 percent of total turnover.

The Bank of America, Barclays, JP Morgan and HSBC are among those implicated in activities that the commission alleges have been going on since at least 2007.

Several banks have already said they will cooperate with the authorities.

In recent years, South Africa has successfully prosecuted and fined local construction companies and bakeries for price fixing.

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