(Reuters) – Australia’s competition regulator on Tuesday said criminal charges had been laid against Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, a local unit of Citigroup and Deutsche Bank AG relating to cartel offences over a $2.3 billion share issue.
Criminal charges have also been laid against several senior executives, including ANZ Treasurer Rick Moscati and Citigroup’s John McLean and Itay Tuchman. Former executives, including Citigroup’s Stephen Roberts and Deutsche Bank’s Michael Ormaechea and Michael Richardson, were also charged, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) said in a statement.
The market had been waiting for details of the charges against ANZ and underwriters of the 2015 stock placement, Deutsche and Citigroup, since the ACCC flagged them on Friday.
All three banks on Friday denied wrongdoing and said they would defend the charges. Citigroup said the regulator was effectively criminalizing practices long seen as the norm in the financial industry.
The charges, which can carry hefty fines and 10-year prison terms, could lead to changes in the way institutional capital raisings are handled, and do further damage to the reputation of Australian lenders already mired in scandal.
The placement was made when Australian banks were under pressure to meet new capital requirements, which prompted ANZ and the country’s biggest bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, to raise a combined A$8 billion in a single week.
Reporting by Aaron Saldanha and Susan Mathew in BENGALURU; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing