SCB pleads guilty to manipulating USD/ZAR pair, agrees to pay penalty

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The Competition Commission and Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) have reached an agreement after eight years of litigation.

According to a statement the UK-based SCB admitted liability to the manipulation of the USD/ZAR currency pair, and agreed to pay an administrative penalty of R42 million.

The settlement brings to an end a dispute over allegations that the bank colluded with other banks to manipulate the rand-dollar exchange rate.

The Commission alleges that SCB was one of 28 banks that colluded to manipulate the rand-dollar exchange rate between 2007 and 2013.

The Competition Commission’s spokesperson, Siyabulela Makunga says, “The SCB is one of the 28 Banks that have been prosecuted by the Commission for manipulation of land and division of markets, and this settlement brings to finality. A matter that has been protected for more than eight years…”

The banks are accused of using chat rooms to agree on bids and offers for rand-dollar trades, which the Commission says drove up the price of the rand and harmed South African consumers and businesses.

The Commission is still pursuing cases against the other 26 banks that are alleged to be involved in the collusion.

“SCP is the second bank to settle with the Commission on the same matter for the same conduct following a settlement Citibank reached with the Commission back in 2017. It is our hope that this statement would encourage other respondents to consider settling on this matter with the Commission, as this would ultimately have an impact on the strength of the currency over time,” Makunga says.

The banks are seeking an order to set aside a Competition Tribunal’s order of March 2023. The banks have approached the Competition Appeal Court to seek a determination on whether South African competition authorities have the jurisdiction to prosecute them.

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