The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) has advised ANZ that it intends to commence proceedings against the bank for being knowingly concerned in alleged cartel conduct relating to an arrangement or understanding allegedly made between the joint lead managers in relation to the supply of 80.8 million shares in August 2015.
The CDPP, which is responsible for prosecuting criminal cartel offences in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth, is also reportedly pursuing proceedings against ANZ Group treasurer Rick Moscati.
Speaking of the intended proceedings, ANZ chief risk officer Kevin Corbally said: “We believe ANZ acted in accordance with the law in relation to the placement and on that basis the bank intends to defend both the company and our employee.”
ANZ said that it was also cooperating with an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in relation to the placement.
The investigation will consider whether ANZ’s announcement of 7 August 2015 should have stated the joint lead managers took up approximately 25.5 million shares of the placement. This represented approximately 0.91 per cent of total shares on issue at that time.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) confirmed that the criminal cartel charges are expected to be laid by the CDPP against ANZ, group treasurer Rick Moscati as well as Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited and a number of other individuals.
These charges will be laid following an investigation by the ACCC.
“The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct.”
Second cartel conduct case in two years
The proceedings mark the second case brought against ANZ for cartel conduct in the past two years.
In 2016, ANZ admitted to 10 instances of attempted cartel conduct in relation to three staff attempting to influence non-deliverable forward foreign exchange (NDF) benchmark setting for the Malaysian ringgit.
It agreed to pay a pecuniary penalty of $9 million.
[Related: Federal Court fines banks for cartel conduct]