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BFCSA: ASIC to investigate ANZ and Westpac CARTEL behaviour? About time!!!

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ANZ acts fast on traders


THE global banking world works in mysterious ways, as shown by ANZ’s decision to suspend seven traders on full pay amid allegations of market rigging in the bank bill swap rate.

The bank disclosed the suspension knowing that, once the market was aware a bunch of traders had vacated their desks, it would become the talk of the market.

ANZ and Westpac are two of the biggest local players in the institutional swaps market, so if ANZ felt the need to take cautionary disciplinary action the obvious question then is what Westpac is thinking.

What is clear is any argument the local oligopoly pretends to have against the impact of global regulation is effectively shot by the sort of trading activity that has been allowed to prosper.

We are not talking about breaking any laws here yet, but bank bosses can’t hide behind history for something that was happening two years ago or less, and they can’t use the rogue trader line either when as bosses they are meant to supervise.

This is the same sort of line of inquiry that is being applied in the US and Britain, with some considerable fervour given their respective taxpayers bailed out their banks.  The global banking industry is showing itself to be ethically challenged, at the very least.

Fortunately the Murray inquiry can see through that nonsense and has made clear it will do its bit to ensure Australian banks are provisioned as at least some measure of protection when the next snafu hits.

Mike Smith et al can hardly put a bunch of traders on gardening leave with one hand and with the other claim to be above the dirt ­afflicting global banking.

We know both Australian Securities & Investments Commission and Australian Competition & Consumer Commission are working through their investigations into the alleged cartel behaviour, so one presumes if the corporate plod has been talking with the folk at ANZ then it must also be talking to Westpac.

The bank said in a statement: “ASIC is conducting an industry-wide investigation into BBSW (bank bill swaps).    Westpac, and we understand a number of other banks, has received notices and inquiries from ASIC in relation to its investigation.”

ANZ took its action in part because the investigations have been going on for some time, with both the bank and the plod talking to the same folk amid allegations they were exercising their market power to gain an advantage.

No one has been charged so questions of illegality are a long way off and it is understood both ACCC and ASIC are a month or two away from any action at best.

The reason why ANZ suspended its traders was because it is bonus time at the bank so the usual argy bargy about pay was being discussed in a somewhat surreal environment.

Former ANZ boss John McFarlane, now chairman at Barclays, is watching on as the British parliament debates clawing back traders’ bonuses in the wake of recent scandals.   First there was the Libor scandal and a $US3.4 billion settlement on rigging the foreign exchange market.

No wonder ASIC boss Greg Medcraft calls it a cartel, and you wonder just what Rod Sims at the ACCC is doing about it all given he has yet to confirm the investigation he is having even though his New Zealand comrades have long ago confirmed it.

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  • Wayne
    Wayne Monday, 24 November 2014

    ANZ thinks they are above the law, but the day will come when there will be no where at all to hide. ANZ will fall the hardest in the end.

  • Wayne
    Wayne Monday, 24 November 2014

    Here comes the their ugly heads starting to raise up:) there's heaps more than just this isue that ANZ is going to have to deal with

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