ANZ, others to stand trial for collusion

Two years after charges were brought, ANZ and other banks will be tried in Federal Court

ANZ, others to stand trial for collusion

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank AG, and six current and former employees will stand trial after pleading not guilty to colluding during a share issue.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has brought charges against ANZ and the other financial giants, their clients and current and former executives, according to a Reuters report. The ACCC accuses the banks of colluding to avoid flooding the market with new shares in order to stop the price from falling. The matter is Australia’s biggest white-collar crime case.

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It’s been five years since the questioned $1.8bn stock issue for ANZ took place, and more than two years since charges were brought. The matter has long been stuck in a local Sydney court as lawyers for each defendant tried to cross-examine prosecution witnesses and questioned whether the ACCC followed due process in gathering evidence, Reuters reported. With the formal not-guilty pleas, the matter will go to trial in the Federal Court. A trial date has not been set.

ANZ declined to comment on the charges, Reuters reported. Citi has denied the allegations, and Deutsche Bank said it would defend the charges.

For the banks, each criminal cartel charge could result in a fine of up to $10m or three times the amount the company benefited from the questioned actions, whichever is greater. Individuals charged face up to 10 years in prison, fines of up to $420,000, or both.