The government accuses the banks of forming a criminal cartel to either “directly or indirectly” restrict the supply of ANZ shares or maintain the price of ANZ shares.
The criminal cartel case against ANZ, Citigroup and Deutsche Bank has been fixed for its next mention on 3 September, followed by two days of arguments on 25 and 27 September.
The case stems from an ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) investigation into the August 2015 institutional placement of new ANZ shares, in a deal underwritten by Citigroup and Deutsche Bank.
The ACCC had said its investigation had revealed cartel behaviour in the trading of ANZ stock, and that it expected the government to bring “criminal cartel” charges against the three banks.
According to Reuters, court documents from a brief procedural hearing on Tuesday (9 July) show that the government is accusing the banks of forming a criminal cartel to either “directly or indirectly” restrict the supply of ANZ shares or maintain the price of ANZ shares.
At the hearing, Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson fixed the September dates for the mention and for when the banks’ lawyers will be able to argue their case. The banks and bankers named are all defending the charges.
If convicted, the banks could face penalties of up to AUD 10 million (USD 7 million), or triple their benefit from the conduct., while the individuals could face up to 10 years’ jail.
Reuters noted that none of the accused bankers were present at the hearing, and that it is still not clear if or when the matter will proceed to trial.