The Competition Commission has approached the Constitutional Court in a bid to appeal the Competition Appeal Court judgment in which it upheld the appeal by the majority of the banks accused of price-fixing and division of markets.
In June 2020, the Commission had referred to the Competition Tribunal, a case against 28 local and foreign banks which are alleged to have colluded with one another to fix the foreign exchange rate in respect of the US Dollar and the South African Rand currency pair.
According to the Competition Commission, the banks were ordered by the Tribunal in March 2023 to file their answering affidavits in response to the Commission’s complaint referral, but objected to the Tribunal order and appealed it to the Competition Appeal Court.
The Appeal Court also upheld the appeal by 17 respondent banks which sought a Competition Appeal Court order to set aside the March 2023 Tribunal decision.
The four banks ordered by the Appeal Court to file their answering affidavits are BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase and Co, HSBC Bank, and Credit Suisse Securities.
Based on these facts, the Appeal Court order has therefore released 17 respondent banks from the complaint referral before they answered the allegations against them and restricted the Commission’s case to only four banks, according to the Competition Commission statement.
The Competition Commission is, therefore, asking for leave to appeal.
The Competition Commission is appealing the Appeal Court’s order to the Constitutional Court against 13 banks.
These banks are Bank of America, Merrill Lynch International Designated Activity Company, JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, Nomura International PLC, Commerzbank AG, Macquarie Bank Limited, HSBC Bank, USA National Association, Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc, Bank of America, National Association, Nedbank Limited, FirstRand Bank Limited, and Standard Americas.
The Competition Commission said that they will not appeal the Appeal Court’s order in respect of the Nedbank Group Limited, FirstRand Limited, Credit Suisse Group, and Standard New York Securities.
The Competition Commission will also not appeal the Appeal Court’s order that dismissed the appeals of these four bank, namely, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan Chase and Co, HSBC Bank, and Credit Suisse Securities.
“Absa Bank Limited, Barclays Capital and Barclays Bank have applied for leniency. Citibank N.A. and Standard Chartered Bank have settled with the Commission. Investec Limited and Investec Bank Limited remain respondent banks required to file answering affidavits,” the statement said.
“This appeal will provide the Constitutional Court with an opportunity to pronounce on whether the South African competition authorities have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute firms that are based outside of the Republic whose anti-competitive conduct affects the South African economy,” the Competition Commission Commissioner Doris Tshepe said.