Standard Chartered Fined R536m For Currency Manipulation

The banks being investigated include Standard Bank, Investec, Absa, and JPMorgan Chase. PICTURE: Business Day

JOHANNESBURG: The Bank has reached an agreement with the New York state department of financial services, admitting that it manipulated currencies including the rand.

In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, SA’s Competition Commission said it “noted” the agreement and that it would consider the effect of the order on its ongoing investigation into currency manipulation by banks operating in SA. The banks being investigated include Standard Bank, Investec, Absa, and JPMorgan Chase. 

In terms of the agreement reached in New York, which has subsequently become a court order, Standard Chartered will pay a fine of $40m (about R536m). It is also required to take remedial action including disciplinary procedures against employees guilty of the contraventions. 

The agreement was signed on January 29 and lays out the settlement between the two parties as well as the key findings resulting from the department’s investigation into currency manipulation at Standard Chartered Bank.

“Standard Chartered traders used a variety of improper tactics to benefit the bank — and themselves — by maximising profits or minimising losses at the expense of the bank’s customers, or customers of other banks that were impacted by the misconduct,” the consent order says.

It goes on to describe the mechanisms that facilitated these tactics, which included chatrooms such as “Zar domination”, e-mails, phone calls, and in-person meetings.

It also stated that traders based at the New York branch and in other major trading centres “engaged repeatedly” in these actions between 2007 and 2013.