The case centres on a A$2.5 billion ($1.9 billion) share sale by Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in 2015, and how underwriters Citigroup and Deutsche Bank disposed of the roughly 25.5 million shares they had to soak up in the sale. The third underwriter, JPMorgan Chase, has not been charged and a Bloomberg report states the firm has declined to comment on media reports it received immunity in return for information.
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims said in a statement ‘These serious charges are the result of an ACCC investigation that has been running for more than two years,’ stating ANZ and each of the individuals are alleged to have been knowingly involved in some or all of the alleged conduct. Citigroup re-issued an earlier statement reiterating, ‘this is a highly technical area and if the ACCC believes there are matters to address, these should be clarified by law or regulation or consultation.’
Charges laid out
Criminal cartel charges have been laid against the three banks and various individuals: Citi Australia’s Stephen Roberts, the former country head, Itay Tuchman, global markets division head now running global foreign exchange trading, and, John McLean, capital markets origination head; Deutsche Bank’s former ceo Michael Ormaechea, and former head of equity capital markets Michael Richardson; and ANZ Bank’s group treasurer Rick Moscati. Under Australia’s cartel laws, executives can face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty, while companies can be fined up to A$10 million, or three times the profit gained. The banks have denied any wrongdoing and said they will defend against the allegations. The ANZ Bank cartel case is listed before the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on July 3.