Financial institutions ANZ, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup will be prosecuted on criminal cartel charges, Australia’s consumer watchdog announced on Friday. The allegations concern arrangements for the sale of A$2.5 billion ($1.9 billion) worth of ANZ shares in 2015, the BBC reported. Several “other individuals” are also expected to be charged by prosecutors, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said.
“The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015,” chairman Rod Sims said in a statement. “It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct.” The ACCC says cartel behaviour happens when businesses act together to drive up profit, rather than compete against each other. ANZ said it believed the bank and its group treasurer, Rick Moscati, had acted lawfully, adding that it would co-operate with authorities, the BBC reported.
Citigroup and Deutsche Bank also vowed to “vigorously defend” defend the charges. Australia’s banking and financial services sector has been rocked by a series of scandals over the last decade. The royal commission inquiry, which began in February, has heard evidence of rampant industry misconduct.