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BFCSA: CBA accepts enforceable undertaking over BBSW conduct

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CBA accepts enforceable undertaking over BBSW conduct

Australian Financial Review Jul 11 2018 10:49 AM

Jonathan Shapiro


The Commonwealth Bank will pay a total of $25 million in fines, penalties and community benefits after formally accepting an enforceable undertaking with the corporate regulator in relation to its role in setting the bank bill swap rate, a key market benchmark used to price hundreds of billions of loans and securities.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission announced that the bank had accepted the undertaking, as its multi year pursuit of the big four banks' over their role in setting the BBSW draws to a close. 

As part of the undertaking, CBA will pay $15 million to be "applied to the benefit of the community" and $5 million towards ASICs investigation and legal costs.

The bank will also engage an independent expert to assess changes made to its policies, systems and supervision relating to the trading of bank bills.

The EU follows a Federal Court decision in late June in which $5 million of penalties were imposed on the bank for attempting to engage in "unconscionable conduct" by seeking to influence the rate on five occasions between January 31, 2012 and June 15,  2012.  

It follows an announcement by CBA in May that it would settle the case with the corporate regulator and pay a total of $25 million in fines and costs.

Justice Beach of the Federal Court said the penalty and the $25 million of total payments "should be an adequate denouncement of and deterrence against the unacceptable trading behaviour of individuals within CBA that ought to have known better and a bank that ought to have better supervised its personnel.'

CBA's penalty is half of the $50 million paid by NAB and ANZ. Each of them paid a $10 million fine, $20 million of costs and a $20 million donation to a financial literacy fund – but ASIC brought fewer allegations against CBA.

 Westpac however contested the claims, and in late May Justice Beach found its traders had attempted to influence the rate on four occasions but were not guilty of market manipulation.


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