Minerals Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
Johannesburg – Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Friday welcomed the decision by the Competition Commission to refer the matter of collusion by the banks to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution, saying that this vindicated his call made last year for an inquiry into local banks.

This comes after the Commission on Wednesday referred a collusion case to the Tribunal for prosecution following the completion of an investigation into price-fixing and market allocation by 17 banks, including three South African banks.

Last year, Zwane called for Cabinet to set up a judicial inquiry to probe the conduct of South Africa's major banks and the reasons why they had closed the business accounts of the politically-connected Gupta family.

However, government distanced itself from Zwane's pronouncements and President Jacob Zuma reprimanded him.

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On Friday, Zwane said: "We trust that this matter will be speedily resolved, as it also directly affects the mining sector. "Most significantly, it has a direct impact on our objective of radically transforming the mining sector, and increasing ownership by black people."

The Commission said it found that, from at least 2007, the banks involved had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids, offers and bid-offer spreads for the spot trades in relation to currency trading involving dollar/rand currency pair.

At the tribunal, the matter has now entered a new phase in which the banks would have an opportunity to answer for themselves. Meanwhile, Treasury has said that this process must be allowed to run its course without fear, prejudice or undue influence.

Treasury said it viewed this matter in a very serious light and welcomed any steps taken against wrongdoing by any financial institutions.