26/04/2017 14:48 BST | Updated 26/04/2017 15:12 BST

Citibank Settles With Competition Tribunal For R69.5 Million For Its Role In Rand-Rigging Scandal

The bank, which is among more than dozen banks named in a probe, paid out for its role in fixing the price of the rand.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
A television presenter speaks in front of a reception with an electronic board displaying movements in major indices at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange building in Sandton Johannesburg, March 14, 2016.


South Africa's Competition Tribunal on Wednesday confirmed a R69.5 million ($5.25 million) settlement with Citibank for its role in rigging rand currency trading, making the U.S. bank the first among more than a dozen banks named in a probe.

The fine is less than 10 percent of Citibank's annual revenue in South Africa -- the potential size of the penalty -- because the bank is one of two co-operating with anti-trust authorities' investigating arm, the Competition Commission.

The commission, which investigates cases before referring them to the tribunal for adjudication, said in February it had found more than a dozen local and foreign banks colluded to coordinate trading the rand and the U.S. dollar.

It recommended fines amounting to 10 percent of the banks' South African revenues in a scandal that has piled political pressure on local banks.

The tribunal said Citibank admitted to manipulating the price of bids and offers through agreements to refrain from trading, and created fictitious bids and offers.

"Citibank additionally admitted to fixing bids, offers and bid-offer spreads in relation to spot trades on ZAR (rand) currency pairs through co-ordination/alignment of the bids, offers, and bid-offer spreads quoted to customers," it said in a statement.

Barclays Africa is also cooperating with investigators in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The commission has granted the regional unit of Barclays PLC conditional immunity.

The commission began its investigation in April 2015, joining an international probe into the manipulation of foreign exchange rates that has led to big banks paying more that $10 billion in settlements.