ANZ to face criminal charges

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) told the bank late yesterday it planned to lay criminal charges over alleged cartel conduct relating to a $2.5 billion share placement in 2015.

The news follows an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), with the body confirming charges were expected to be laid against the bank, ANZ group treasurer Rick Moscati, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited, along with a number of individuals.

“The charges will involve alleged cartel arrangements relating to trading in ANZ shares following an ANZ institutional share placement in August 2015,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“It will be alleged that ANZ and the individuals were knowingly concerned in some or all of the conduct.”

The ACCC has declined to make further comment until charges are laid.

However, while the bank has acknowledged the expected charges, ANZ chief risk officer Kevin Corbally said in a written statement he believed the bank had not broken the law.

“We believe ANZ acted in accordance with the law in relation to the placement and on that basis the bank intends to defend both the company and our employee,” he said.

ANZ said the CDPP planned to launch a criminal case against the bank “for being knowingly concerned in alleged cartel conduct by the joint lead managers” of its underwritten Institutional Equity Placement of around 80.8 million shares in August 2015.

The charges relate to an alleged arrangement or understanding between the joint lead managers in relation to the supply of the bank’s shares.

The bank confirmed it was also co-operating with an investigation being carried out by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

ASIC is looking into whether an announcement made by the bank on August 7, 2015 should have stated the joint lead managers took up around 25.5 million shares of the placement, representing approximately 0.91 per cent of total shares on issue at that time.

ANZ will also not provide further comment.

alexis.carey@news.com.au

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