National Australia Said to Face Court Action in BBSW Probe

  • Regulator set to lodge proceedings over alleged rate fixing
  • Case will follow similar actions against Westpac, ANZ Bank

National Australia Bank Said to Face Court Action

Australia’s securities regulator is set to start civil legal proceedings against National Australia Bank Ltd. for allegedly manipulating the nation’s benchmark swap rate, according to a person familiar with the matter.

It will be the third such legal action in a more-than three-year investigation by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission into alleged manipulation of the bank-bill swap rate -- the local equivalent of Libor also known as BBSW.

National Australia is working with ASIC on the investigation, Melbourne-based spokeswoman Meaghan Telford said by telephone, declining to comment on the pending legal action. The Australian Financial Review, which first reported the looming proceedings, said the regulator may file a statement of claim in court as early as Friday.

The regulator has been investigating the setting of the bank-bill swap rate since mid-2012 and has previously criticized a lack of cooperation from the nation’s banks. Civil proceedings have been lodged against Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and Westpac Banking Corp., while Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, UBS Group AG and BNP Paribas SA have made voluntary contributions of a combined A$3.6 million ($2.6 million) toward financial literacy projects.

The regulator hasn’t “made a decision about taking action against any other banks,” the AFR cited ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft as saying at a conference in Melbourne Thursday. “That does not mean we won’t make a decision in the next week or month," the newspaper cited him as saying.

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