• Employees to return to work in coming weeks, lender says
  • Bank found no ``significant'' breaches of code of conduct

Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. is reinstating four employees it had suspended amid an investigation by regulators into whether traders tried to influence one of Australia’s benchmark interest rates.

The decision came after a review of historic trading practices in the bank bill swap rate, the local equivalent of the London interbank offered rate, Shayne Collins, acting managing director for markets at the Melbourne-based bank, said in an e-mail to employees. He didn’t name the traders.

“These four staff members are expected to return to work in the coming weeks with no significant findings by ANZ in relation to compliance with ANZ policies or our Code of Conduct,” Collins wrote. “We welcome them back to the bank.”

The lender dismissed three traders last year after checks by the bank of e-mails during the BBSW probe revealed messages that included sexist remarks and violated its policies. They weren’t fired for any market trading, the lender said at the time.

Since then, the securities regulator has started legal action against ANZ and Westpac Banking Corp. for allegedly manipulating the swap rate. Both lenders deny the claim and have vowed to “aggressively defend” the action. The more-than-three-year probe by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission has also led to voluntary contributions of a combined A$3.6 million ($2.7 million) toward financial literacy projects from Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, UBS Group AG and BNP Paribas SA.

Probes into the rigging of foreign-exchange markets and interest-rate benchmarks have led to lenders across the globe paying billions of dollars in fines and an overhaul of how such rates are set.

Australia changed its rate-setting regime in 2013, following the global Libor-rigging scandal. It scrapped a 14-bank panel that had made BBSW submissions and moved to a system where the benchmark is compiled using prices sourced from approved interbank trading platforms.

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