File image. Picture: Independent Media

Johannesburg – The Competition Commission has denied any political interference by the government in its investigations into currency manipulation by the banks.

Competition Commission head Tembinkosi Bonakele told the portfolio committee on economic development yesterday that their probe was above board.

He said it started in April 2015 after the US and UK authorities had fined several banks $5.6billion (R74bn) for collusion and price-fixing.

DA MP Michael Cardo said he was concerned about the timing of the investigation into the collusion of the banks in currency trading.

Among 17 banks investigated by the commission were three local banks, Absa, Investec and Standard Bank.

Cardo wanted to know whether there were political considerations in the investigation. Chairperson of the committee Busi Coleman said it backed the commission in its work. She said it was a complex investigation involving international players in currency trading. Coleman added that the committee had full confidence in the Competition Commission.

Bonakele said it started in April 2015, and they were gathering information from partners overseas.

“Were there political considerations in the investigation? Absolutely not, we don’t do that,” said Bonakele.

“This was a complex investigation. We had an idea by the end of last year that we will press charges against the banks,” he said. It was then that last week they referred the matter to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution.

He said the government had not interfered in their work. Bonakele was unable to comment on the impact of currency manipulation on South Africa.

The Star