Regulator Pursuing Alleged Rand Riggers Yet to Speak to Banks

The South African Competition Commission, which said last week it’s investigating 11 companies for allegedly fixing rand prices, hasn’t yet spoken with the banks it named as part of the probe.

“We don’t have to be in touch” with the banks, Mava Scott, a spokesman for the commission, said Monday by phone from Pretoria. “We are under no obligation. Right now we are gathering evidence. Once we come to the conclusion that someone has a case to answer and we have enough to prosecute, then we will go and speak with them.”

The commission said May 19 it’s investigating 11 companies, including local banks Standard Bank Group Ltd., Barclays Group Africa Ltd. and Investec Ltd. for alleged collusion in trades involving the rand. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said May 22 he was “very concerned” by the allegations and wanted to understand the impact on the country’s financial system.

Barclays Africa has dropped 2.1 percent in Johannesburg trading since the probe was announced, while Standard Bank is down 1.3 percent. Investec, which reported earnings May 21, has advanced 3.8 percent.

“Given the high-profile nature of the investigation, the commission has committed itself to working on this as fast as possible,” Scott said.

Spokesmen for Standard Bank, Investec and Barclays Africa have said their banks will cooperate fully with the investigation. BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc., Citigroup Global Markets (Pty) Ltd., Barclays Bank Plc, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and a unit of Standard Chartered Plc were also named in the probe.